By Samuel Kamndaya
Dodoma — The Parliamentary Budget Committee has advanced at least 20 issues for further deliberations between the legislative body and the executive as the two pillars of government seek to reach a consensus on Tanzania's 2018/19 budget.
The issues, according to the chairperson of the Parliamentary Budget Committee, Ms Hawa Ghasia, formed the agenda of the meeting that was to be held here yesterday.
"We had at least 23 issues and, so far, we have reached an agreement on three of them. The rest will be discussed in a meeting to be chaired by the chairman of the Parliamentary Steering Committee who is also the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Job Ndugai," Ms Ghasia told The Citizen at Bunge grounds yesterday.
Until 11 am yesterday, a number of senior government officials were seen at the Bunge grounds and had in fact, started entering the Pius Msekwa Hall where the meeting was scheduled to take place.
As expected, almost all Cabinet ministers and senior government officials - including those from various departments within the Finance Ministry - and Mr Ndugai and his team had entered the Pius Msekwa Hall by 12 noon but the meeting was adjourned within minutes.
The Citizen was informed that it (the meeting) will now be held today from 11am after the government side had asked for time to deliberate on the Committee's recommendations.
Ms Ghasia declined to dwell on the issues, insisting that it was the prerogative of the Speaker to do so.
"Ultimately, all will be discussed and a consensus will be reached. I am not in a position to state which ones have been agreed upon and those that are yet to be agreed upon," she said. It is expected that the government will be pressed to get additional funds to finance areas that had been highlighted by MPs during the two months of debating sectoral budget in the House.
MPs, however, say since the task of scrutinizing the budget started on Wednesday last week the government has indicated clearly that it does not have the required additional funds, noting however that it would do everything possible to ensure that funds for Education and Health sectors - as required under the 2017/18 budget - will be sourced.
On Wednesday last week, Ms Hawa Ghasia told journalists at Parliament grounds that some of the issues that will take much of their time include money budgeted for the National Identification project and the National Addressing and Postcode System.
She said during the 2017/18 financial year, the Parliament had approved a total of Sh20 billion for the National Identification and the National Addressing and Postcode projects. However, only Sh10 billion had been disbursed so far, she said.
The other issue, she said, was the government's failure to buy vehicles and chemicals for the Fire and Rescue Force.