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Tanzanian Lawmakers Begin Talks on Magufuli's First Budget

FILE - Tanzanian President John Magufuli joins a cleanup event outside the State House in Dar es Salaam, Dec. 9, 2015.

Tanzanian parliamentarians are meeting in the capital, Dodoma, to discuss and approve the Magufuli administration’s proposed budget for this year, the information minister says. Parliament plans to complete the budget approval process in July.

The budget is John Magufuli’s first since his election as president in October. Forty percent of the proposed budget will cover national development projects, a sharp departure from previous practices when allocations for development stayed at 27 percent, Information Minister Nape Nnauye said.

“Because it is his first budget, people in Tanzania are expecting a lot," Nnauye said. "We have talked about the industrialization process of Tanzania. Tanzanians are expecting that this budget will revive the industrial process of the country, increase the growth of the economy, will provide employment, and it is expected [it] will [improve] the standard of living of many of our people in the country.”

Expectations among Tanzanians are high because of actions Magufuli has taken since he was sworn into office. These include his impromptu visits to government institutions, which the government says are aimed at ensuring accountability and improving public employees' work ethic.

Three days after assuming office, Magufuli went unannounced to the Ministry of Finance and Muhimbili National Hospital. At the hospital, he transferred the executive director and dissolved the health board after expressing concern about the poor hygienic conditions, lack of drugs and lack of essential functioning equipment.

Officials' trips barred

Magufuli banned public officials from traveling abroad on expensive trips paid for by taxpayers. Officials said the frequent overseas trips were a drain on public finances and were preventing the government from undertaking development projects.

The minister also noted that Magufuli had fired top officials of the country’s ports because of alleged corruption. Since the firings and the appointments of new leaders, the minister said, efficiency has sharply risen and revenue generation has increased.

“President Magufuli has performed since he was sworn in … and has taken great measures, such that he has been the talk of Africa, the talk of the world," Nnauye said. "Some of the Kenyans were telling us, 'Can you give us Magufuli even for one month?' "

Nnauye also said the president had cut government expenditures and canceled Independence Day and Union Day celebrations that would have cost the government millions of dollars. Such moves enabled the government to set aside more funds for development, the minister said.

Projects that had been stopped because of a lack of money "are now progressing because of the new measures Magufuli has taken, and this is a good indicator that we are going to the right direction,” Nnauye said.