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MPs worried over possibility of poverty level increase

MPs worried over possibility of poverty level increase

MEMBERS of Parliament (MPs) have advised the government to put in place mechanisms that would help more Tanzanians to be saved from abject poverty which is increasing every year.

Debating budget estimates of Prime Minister’s Office tabled before the National Assembly here on Wednesday, the lawmakers called for strong and strategic measures to be taken to protect markets and products from the agriculture sector, which contributes 29 in the Gross Development Products (GDP).

Nzega Urban MP (CCM), Hussein Bashe pointed out that looking at the World Bank statistics, the Economic Updates No. 11 released this year, shows that the number of Tanzanians increased in the poverty line from 2012 up to now is 2,000 while 60 to 70 per cent of the country’s population is in the agricultural sector.

“All of our plans as a country and financing programmes that we do as a country must look at how productive improvements are and ensure there are reliable markets for farmers so that we can salvage our people from poverty,” he said.

Looking at the financing of the agricultural sector, he said, for three consecutive years, what was being invested in the agricultural sector has been decreasing every year.

The MP explained that what was being invested could not correspond with the disbursement made for development budget.

“Our agricultural sector contributes 29 per cent of the GDP to our national developments, but funds allocated are less than five per cent of the development budget. At the same time, our population is growing at an average of three per cent.

This is a problem. More people will continue to be under poverty,” he said.

“We must establish a price stabilisation fund in the agricultural area so that in case farmers meet any global market crisis or unpredictability on world prices we have a way to save them,” the lawmaker further advised.

Giving statistics on cotton, for example, from 2014 to 2017, Mr Bashe said that production of the crop in the 2013/2014 declined by 30 per cent, while in the 2014/2015 it was at 17 per cent, in 2015/2016 the same declined further by 16 per cent and in the 2016/2017 season, the production was 18 per cent.

On cashew nuts, he said in 2014, such crop had a negative trend, but for 2017 and 2018 seasons, the production grew because the government had made some heavy investments.

Therefore, he said there was need for the country to establish a price stabilisation fund for agricultural products.

The MP further called for establishment of a special fund for subsiding inputs because Tanzania has the ability of controlling production and quality, but does not have such capability on price of products made for export.

Regarding markets, the legislator pointed out that though there is Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB), which has been established, there was a problem on its structure because it is under the Ministry of Finance and Planning.

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