By Lusekelo Philemon
The government has announced plans to formulate a national strategy to rid the country’s national parks and game reserves of the devastating effects of poaching.
“For the wellbeing of our nation and in particular the tourism sector which employs a large number of Tanzanians, this barbaric business must come to an end,” Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda told the National Assembly yesterday here.
Tabling the 2014/15 budget estimates (5.23trn/-) for his office the PM said:
“Apart from other measures which are in place, the government is planning to implement a national strategy to combat poaching and we have already identified our capacity, weaknesses, strength and demand to scale-up conservation efforts.”
The Premier said the government has been investing billions of shillings to promote Tanzania’s tourist destinations yet the investment is undermined by poaching which is tarnishing the country’s name and negatively affecting tourism.
Despite the challenge, Pinda said the number of tourists has grown from 1,077,058 in 2012 to 1,135,884 last year and generated US$1.8bn compared to US$1.7bn in 2012.
On a different development, the PM said the National Election Commission (NEC) is expected to finalise updating the permanent voters’ register during the 2014/15 financial year to allow issuance of identity cards ahead of the constitutional referendum.
The Premier said the commission is now working to switch to a biometric voter registration system to be used to update the permanent voters’ register instead of the previously used optical mark recognition system.
According to the Premier, the transformation from optical to biometric system will ease the speed for identity card issuance.
On yet a different topic, Pinda said the government intends to increase enrollment of youth into national service in the coming financial year.
“More than 15,000 youths participated in the noble training as of December 2013,” he said “… now we want to increase the number … the idea being to improve and strengthen accountability, patriotism and national unity,” he explained
As for the private sector and investment development in the country, Premier Pinda said the environment is conducive and welcoming noting that increasingly more and more multinational companies are flocking to Tanzania.
Of these, he singled out, Unilever which he said plans to inject 275bn/- in tea production, an investment that will support out-growers improve their productivity, he said.
He reiterated government’s commitment to ensure the private sector remains ‘a strong partner in the country’s socio-economic development.’
He also told the House that in the 2014/15 fiscal year, the government plans to upgrade 308km of central railway line and to build two dry ports in Ilala and Isaka, Dar es Salaam and Mwanza respectively.
Also, in transport infrastructure development, he said, the government is to procure at least 12 train engines and 204 cargo locomotives to meet growing demands and it will also refurbish stations’ buildings all along the line.
In the same regard, the Premier said the government is upgrading berths 1 to 7 at the Dar es Salaam and Mwanza Port in a bid to increase cargo handling capacity from 13 .5 million tonnes to 18 million tonnes.