Activists give 2020/21 budget cautious welcome

By Sauli Gilliard
ACTIVISTS have hailed the 2020/2021 government budget as gender-responsive but cautioned it needs collective efforts and commitment to make it work for everyone and ensure equitable distribution of resources.
Speaking at a virtual meeting last week organized by Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP), they said they are impressed by priorities of the budget which are focused to promote gender equality but said its implementation should remain focused to ensure both men and women enjoyed the national cake.
The national budget approved by Members of Parliament seeks to expand access to clean and safe water in urban and rural areas, improve health services, and bringing relief in the agricultural sector through scraping some taxes.
“The budget looks good from a gender perspective but the devil is in the details,” said TGNP Executive Director, Lilian Liundi.
She said collective efforts were needed to ensure both men and women should benefit from job and trade opportunities to be created in infrastructure development projects and from the tax relief in the agriculture sector.
On school water and sanitation and hygiene, she suggests that they should be tracked in respect of equality and how it has addressed special needs to girls.
She said they have been impressed by how the government has improved health infrastructure but called on sustainable efforts to address various challenges affecting women. Since women play a pivotal role in agriculture, she suggests, the group should be considered with a special package from Tanzania Agriculture Development Bank (TADB). The package would enable the transformation of the sector through the provision of soft loans.
The budget seeks to amend the Value Added Tax Act to enable exporters of raw products to recover input tax and enhance the competitiveness of the products in the international markets as well as abide by the VAT destination principle.
The Value Added Tax measures altogether are expected to reduce government revenue by 46m/-.
The TGNP boss supports the initiative but she went further to propose that gender analysis should be conducted to unveil how women would benefit from the decision to scrap some taxes in the sector gearing to boost farmers’ income and elevate them from poverty. In the discussion that also brought together activists from gender-based Non-Governmental Organisation (NGOs), education, ordinary wananchi, and Members of Parliament, she also suggests that the budget should address specific challenges facing specific problems in the community in order to get rid inequalities for sustainable development.
A Programme Officer at HakiElimu, Judith Kapinga called for a sustainable program that will help transform the agricultural sector.
She said cutting budget dependency from donors was a good move but noted that existing challenges in the sector cannot be addressed in a single Financial Year.
She called for a “sustainable approach” in addressing various challenges including shortage of classrooms resulted from improved enrolment of pupils.
Meanwhile, Gema Akilimali from TGNP suggests thorough monitoring of how the lives of women and girls will be positively impacted as a result of the implementation of the national strategic projects.
Generally, the activists are optimistic that if gender will be mainstreamed during the implementation of the 2020/2021 financial plan, then, marginalized groups including people living with disabilities, women, and girls will be positively impacted.