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Tanzania: Better Services Beckon As Digitized Systems Kick Off

Dodoma — SLOWLY moving towards a digitized and integrated public service delivery, the government has officially launched online systems which will enhance transparency and accountability of public funds.

The systems, which are expected to play a crucial role in the transformation race to a middle-income economy, were launched by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa in Dodoma yesterday.

The redesigned Planning, Budgeting and Reporting (PlanRep) System and the new Facility Financial Accounting and Reporting System (FFARS) are a brainchild of the President's Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments) supported by the USAID-Tanzania Public Sector Strengthening Systems (PS3).

Rolling out the system, the premier warned civil servants who would tamper with the systems for their personal interests, saying culprits would face stiff penalties. "These systems are compulsory to all councils across the country.

The system will help improve transparency and accountability of public funds," he said. According to the prime minister, a number of development projects had been slowed by inappropriate allocation of funds.

"The bud get which was planned for building school labs is mysteriously spent on financing a council's meeting ... these systems will eliminate such anomalies," he said. Mr Majaliwa said effectively after the systems' installation, all budgets must be documented and digitalised in line with the plan.

Tanzania, which has 185 councils, spent at least six months planning and preparing for every budget, a process which cost at least 8.32bn/- a year. With the inception of the system, it is anticipated it will reduce time and save an average of 4bn/-, which could be spent in other development works.

The government stressed further that from now on, all financial statements within districts and regional councils must be published in the council's website for public scrutiny. Minister in the Office of the President (Regional Administration and Local Governments) Mr George Simbachawene, said while the programme was intended for the entire 185 councils, the donor, USAID, had injected funds to support the system in 13 regions comprising 93 councils.

We spent about ten months building the systems and training over 13,000 public servants and a national facilitation team to operate the system. The system will ultimately neutralize forgery in the financial statements of public funds," he said.

PS3 Chief of Party Dr Emmanuel Malangalila, explained that initially, the plan was to strengthen health systems across the country but the demand for other sectors took a large part of the plan. "This is why we had to include health, education and agriculture sectors," he said.

Acting US ambassador to Tanzania Ms Inmi Patterson and USAID Mission Director in Tanzania, Mr Andy Karas, expressed confidence in the government administration, stressing that the systems would help speed up development in the country.