Isles economy projected to grow at 7.1 pc

ZANZIBAR economy that grew by 6.8 per cent in 2022, is projected to expand at 7.1 per cent in 2023, almost three times of the global average of 2.8 per cent, with expansive tourism sector spearheading the impressive growth.

The country targets 713,053 tourists in 2023, an increase of 30 per cent from 548,503 holiday makers who visited the Spice Islands last year, Minister of State, President’s Office, Finance and Planning, Dr Saada Mkuya Salum told the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Moving the country’s 2023 economic outlook and development plan for the 2023/2024 fiscal year, Dr Mkuya said the government has devised measures to accelerate economic growth and improve the livelihood of all Zanzibaris through various social and economic sectors.

She named education, infrastructure development, health, agriculture, fisheries, tourism, industries and trade as the focus sectors whose potentials the government is determined to exploit for the benefits of islanders.

Dr Mkuya told the House that the government domestic revenues will grow to 26 per cent from last year’s 24.7 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with Zanzibar Revenue Authority (ZRA) taxes hitting 22 per cent of GDP from last year’s 18.1 per cent.

The minister said the government will invest heavily in strategic projects to further bolster economic growth, citing some of them as construction of 782.9-kilometre urban and rural roads, Pemba Airport, Mangapwani Integrated Port and massive renovations of Malindi Port.

She further informed the House that execution of social projects, including construction of health, education and water infrastructure as well as sports complexes in each district will also contribute to the envisaged economic growth.

The 2023/2024 development plan is based on 2021/2026 Zanzibar Development Plan, 2020/2025 ruling CCM election manifesto, Zanzibar President Dr Hussein Mwinyi’s directives, speeches and election pledges, Minister Saada told the House.

She named the strategic areas in the next fiscal year as exploitation of blue economy opportunities; creation of enabling environment and strong infrastructure; economic transformation; improvement of human resources and social services and good governance.

The government intends to inject 23.5bn/- next year in ground works for construction of Mangapwani integrated port and fish landing port at Kama, with another 77.5bn/- injected in the water sector to ensure islanders have access to safe and clean water services.

The minister said the government will intensify the energy sector through generation of electricity from renewable sources.

And, under the World Bank-funded Zanzibar Energy Sector Transformation and Access (ZESTA) project, the government has allocated 7.2bn/- for compensation of ‘wananchi’ whom the solar power generation plant and transmission lines will affect.

She pledged prudent measures to stabilise prices in the country, pledging indicative prices on foodstuffs and construction materials, improved agricultural programmes to boost domestic food production, mobilisation of industrial production, sustained but strictly controlled subsidies and improved warehouses and food storage systems to ensure food security in the country.

House Standing Committee on Budget, however, accused Zanzibar Fishing Company (ZAFICO) of failure to operate the two fishing vessels, advising the government to put in place the firm operational strategies before investing substantial amount of taxpayers’ money on projects that ultimately turn into white elephant.

Presenting the committee opinion, a member, Professor Omar Fakih Hamad raised concern over the procurement of the fishing vessels without having the operational strategies in place. The government had planned to engage private companies to operate the ships but nothing has been done, charged the legislator.

The committee further faulted the delays in construction of the fishing ports, advising the government to go for competent and highly efficient contractors.

The committee appreciated the government efforts to address water challenges in the country but said more efforts are needed to expand the supply network to ensure that ‘wananchi’ get water.

Professor Omar said the government has invested in borehole drilling, installation of water pumps and construction of reserve tanks but many people still don’t get water due to unreliable supply network.

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