Tanzania’s new President John Magufuli, on Tuesday ordered restrictions on foreign travel by government officials and cuts in tax exemptions, signalling the potential start of fiscal belt-tightening measures by his government.
A statement from the president’s office said that “the president had put a halt to all foreign trips by government officials with immediate effect.
“If there is an urgent need for foreign travel by a public official, approval must be granted by the president himself or the Head of Civil Service.’’
The directive is against the backdrop of abuse of public funds by some officials reputed for making frequent foreign trips and flying in first or business class at taxpayers’ expense in a country that is one of the biggest per-capita aid recipients in Africa.
The statement said Magufuli, 56, had instead, ordered government officials to visit villages and other rural parts of Tanzania to address “grievances and problems of the people’’.
The belt-tightening measures are aimed at raising money to finance the government’s plan of providing primary and secondary education to all Tanzanian children free of charge from January next year, the statement said.
“The president has also instructed the Tanzania Revenue Authority to step up revenue collection from large tax payers and curb tax evasion without fear or favour,’’ it said.
Magufuli, whose supporters call him “the bulldozer’’ for building desperately needed roads across the large nation in his previous post as a cabinet minister, had pledged to introduce a raft of measures to end government excesses and boost revenue collection.
Magufuli, sworn in on Nov. 5 as Tanzania’s fifth president, had pledged to double the east African country’s monthly revenue collection to 1.8 trillion shillings ($843 million) over the next five years.
He also promised to create a special court to oversee all corruption-related issues and vowed zero tolerance for graft.