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Tanzania: High hopes for Magufuli’s first budget

President Magufuli delivers a speech during his swearing-in ceremony in Dar Es Salaam, 5 November 2015
President Magufuli delivers a speech during his swearing-in ceremony in Dar Es Salaam, 5 November 2015 AFP Photo/Daniel Hayduk

Tanzanian lawmakers have gathered in the capital Dodoma to debate the first budget of President John Magufuli’s administration. It contains a 13 percent increase in funding for development projects that will be paid for through tax rises and spending cuts in other areas, the country’s information minister tells RFI.

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“People have a lot of expectations because this is the budget where the government will start implementing whatever has been promised in the election manifesto,” said Information Minister Nape Nnauye.

Q&A Nape Nnauye

It’s the first budget since Magufuli’s election in October 2015 and his promises to create more jobs and drive up economic growth.

“One of the areas we're concentrating on is infrastructure,” said Nnauye in a telephone interview on Sunday, referring to other priority projects in power generation and social services.

Magufuli also wants to encourage industrialisation and boost the agricultural sector by “adding value” to the production of cotton, cashew nuts and coffee, according to the information minister.

Economic growth in Tanzania is expected to be seven percent in 2016, said the International Monetary Fund in a March update, noting “buoyant” activity in the construction, communications, finance and transportation sectors.

The government’s central railway project is one of the major infrastructure projects that will help drive growth, said Nnauye.

The Chinese government is to provide almost six billion euros to Tanzania to finance the construction of the railway, according to reports. The railway is intended to run from the port in Dar Es Salaam to Mwanza in the north-west of the country on the shores of Lake Victoria.

“We're expecting an increase in taxation but also to find other sources of revenue from within and reduce expenditure,” said Nnauye, adding that an earmarked 40 percent for national development projects will be financed internally, not through external finance.

Magufuli has “greatly reduced expenditure from the government side”, according to Nnauye, who claimed that will help “save some of the money to finance these projects”.

Tanzania’s opposition is likely to put up some resistance to Magufuli’s budget, said Nnauye, when asked about getting the budget through parliament.

“Some aspects, they will join us, but most of the aspects they will criticise us,” he said. “This is their duty, I think they’ll continue criticising us and opposing us – that’s why they’re called the opposition."

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