PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan yesterday lambasted internal auditors and anticorruption watchdogs for failure to act swiftly and prevent embezzlement of funds allocated for development projects in local government authorities.
The Head of State, thus, directed responsible government ministries to transfer internal auditors who have overstayed in their working stations and eventually become a syndicate of thieving public officials.
“It does not make sense that funds are being swindled and yet internal auditors don’t take any action until such malpractices are exposed during annual audit reports by the Controller and Auditor General,” Ms Samia stated shortly after laying a foundation stone for a 10.6bn/- water project in Bunda District, Mara Region.
President Samia equally slammed the Prevention and Combating of Corruption (PCCB) officials for not taking proactive measures to detect and prevent misuse of public funds in development projects.
“PCCB should act beforehand to prevent such vices rather than waiting for the CAG report to expose the theft and start to act thereafter,” she ordered when winding up her fourday working tour of Mara Region yesterday.
Ms Samia was irked that the central government has been dishing out funds for development projects to local government authorities but the same ends up swindled and thus leading to either shoddy or stalled projects.
“It is not pleasing at all that funds have been allocated for an earmarked project and procurement guidelines are in place but some officials in procurement and planning departments inflate the costs and ultimately distract smooth implementation of the project,” she stated.
The president also expressed concerns that a large chunk of money allotted for consultancy works in such projects ends up being swindled.
“It seems there has been some sort of laxity but let me assure you that we are going back to austerity measures to put public officials in line,” she warned. Ms Samia attributed delayed and shoddy projects to embezzlement, squabbling and negligence among leaders.
She however, hailed local councillors in Bunda District for suspending officials who were alleged to have misused public funds.
“I urge residents to stand up and report thieving officials, who stall projects. Keeping quiet is like stabbing yourself. It is your responsibility to follow up on these projects because they are meant for your own development,” Ms Samia urged the residents.
On the other hand, she warned that starting now, the central government will refund to the treasury coffers all funds disbursed to local government authorities and stay unutilised for six months.
For his part, Mara Regional Commissioner, Mr Ally Hapi, warned local leaders in the region against squabbling after funds for projects have been disbursed. “Once funds are available then the projects should be implemented swiftly in areas where they are needed. There is no need to start bickering on where the projects should be undertaken,” he advised.
Briefing the president earlier, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Water, Engineer Anthony Sanga, said the 10.6bn/- water project will serve residents in 14 wards in Bunda and is set for completion at the end of April, this year.
Expansion of the water treatment plant will increase its capacity to 15 million litres per day from just 3.7 million litres at present, he explained, noting that the demand for water in the district is nine million litres.
“The water will undergo through a modern conventional treatment plant which meets both local and international quality standards. It will be a big relief since at present the residents not only face a shortage but use water that is not well treated,” he explained.
Earlier yesterday, President Samia visited and held brief prayers at the grave of the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere in Butiama where she also signed a book and met with some family members.