Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tightening the screws on corruption

For the poorest people, every opportunity that sees some extra money coming their way is quickly seized. When the whole country is poor, this becomes the ‘normal’ way everything is done, from the smallest transaction to the largest.

The Tanzanian Government is working on the wide range of measures that will lead to national culture change over time. I have blogged here and here about corruption, and today I see a Reuters report about the Tanzanian Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA), whose job is to regulate government tenders to ensure that the money goes to the project, and not into the pockets of officials.

According the World Bank’s country procurement assessment report for Tanzania issued in 2003, about 20% of government expenditure on procurement is lost through corruption, mainly in the form of kickbacks and bogus investments that eventually have to be written off. The report says,
Considering that public procurement accounts for about 70 per cent of the entire government expenditure budget, this translates to a loss of $300m (approx. 300bn/- at the time) per year, which is enough to finance the combined annual recurrent budgets of the ministries of health and education.

Clearly the PPRA has plenty of work ahead! Established two years ago, the PPRA will issue standard procurement procedures to government departments for running tenders, monitor the performance of tenders and investigate any irregularities. Head of PPRA, Ramadhan Mlinga, says,
Actually one of the serious things is lack of information. Basically all these efforts will be able to give some correct statistics on procurement.

Under Tanzania's new anti-corruption law anyone found guilty of graft through procurement could face fines of between 1.0 million shillings and three million, or three and five years in prison.

For another view on government effectiveness in fighting corruption in Tanzania, see a report (4 Sept 2007) in This Day, which quotes a recent assessment by the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit.

New laws, regulatory agencies with real power, professional development training and an alert media that keeps the spotlight on the problem – all of these things will contribute to a change in culture in coming years. Reducing corrupt practices at all levels of life will help reduce poverty and encourage faster economic growth.

That's good news for the kids at the School of St Jude. Your support will help them grow up well-equipped for a new society that is undergoing important social change.


Anonymous said...

Hi Gillian
That report illustrate what is really happening in our country, affirmative action is needed on all levels of educations from nursery school to universities, from secular schools to non-secular schools if we all promote awareness of corruption being the biggest obstacle of our development we will be able to see changes overnight. if we create a well defined guidelines on every level of governing bodies, corruption will dissapear. corruption is even worse than AIDS, it kills many innocent people and render millions into abject poverty. teach those children about the corruption being their number one enemy that will prevent them from achieving their dreams and goals so that they will spread the knowledge and form a force that will route the corruption out of our beautiful country.

Gillian said...

Thanks Anon... I agree that corruption really needs to be tackled. I hope that the kids at St Jude's grow up with an appreciation that the whole society will work better if money is not siphoned off into private hands when it should be spent on essential services for everyone.