Zanzibar unveils 2011/12 budget on Wednesday

(Daily News)ZANZIBAR Minister of State (Finance, Economical Planning and Development) Omar Yussuf Mzee is this afternoon expected to present the isles’ 613bn/- budget for the 2011/12 financial year in the Zanzibar House of Representatives.

Briefing journalists in Zanzibar about the much-awaited budget, Mr Mzee said that the government was planning to increase the budget from 444bn/- in 2010/11 to 613bn/- during the next financial year. Mr Mzee ruled out the possibility of tax increase, mentioning sources of budget taxes, loans and non-tax sources. He, however, hinted that 340bn/- of the 2011/2012 planned budget would be support from development partners.

The minister hinted further that the government would improve revenue collection and cut down unnecessary expenditures and control tax exemptions to raise the remaining 273bn/-.

“The budget increase is meant to boost agriculture and improve the welfare of civil servants,” the minister said adding that the focus on agriculture would be improving roads in farming areas, farming skills, and purchase of in-puts such fertilizers and modern equipment.

Mr Mzee said that the government’s efforts to improve the welfare of its workers would help control brain-drain particularly in health sector. “Very unfortunate our skilled personnel have been leaving the islands for greener pastures abroad mainly due to poor pay at home,” he stressed.

During this financial year, which ends on June 30, the government gave priority to education, infrastructure development and health in its budgetary allocation. The same sectors are expected to get priority in the 2011/12 fiscal year. The budget session begins this morning with the questions and answers session, before Mr Omar presents in the House the budget at 4pm.

Meanwhile, the First Vice-President, Mr Seif Sharif Hamad, has called on employees at Zanzibar’s main entry points — Malindi seaport and Abeid Amani Karume Airport — to be vigilant in support of government’s efforts to fight crime and drug trafficking.

“You have a key role to play in the war against crime and illicit drug business; therefore you need to remain alert at all times,” said Mr Hamad during his tour of the seaport and airport on Monday and Tuesday respectively.

The 1st VP was dissatisfied with the level of security at the entry points and commented that the situation enabled criminals to conduct illegal business, including narcotic drug trafficking.

Mr Hamad’s office is responsible for environment protection, HIV/AIDS fight and illicit drugs. The 1st VP hinted on plans to construct a new seaport in Zanzibar to reduce congestion at the current seaport and improve services. The Zanzibar Airport is presently undergoing massive rehabilitation.

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