THE government has saved taxpayers’ money amounting to over 374bn/- in an e-immigration project that was officially launched by President John Magufuli in Dar es Salaam, yesterday.
The first phase of the 57.82 million US dollars (128.5bn/-) project reached its climax yesterday by launching the East African epassport. Other phases, according to Dr Magufuli, will include establishment of e-visa, eborder management system and expansion of electronic systems in all foreign embassies and consulates.
Speaking during the official launching of the e-migration project at the immigration headquarters in Dar es Salaam, yesterday, Dr Magufuli revealed that there was a plot by some public officials to steal the government’s money, through contracting a company for rolling out the project for e-migration at a huge price of 226 million US dollars which is equivalent to 502.2bn/-.
“There was a dirty game by some individuals who wanted to steal taxpayers’ money, that is why the government decided to suspend the project, back then,” he revealed further. Because of that, the President noted, the government decided to engage all security agencies to conduct a thorough feasibility study of the project and finally the government got the American manufacturer of secure identity solutions – HID Global through the help of the government of Finland.
Initially, the project for eimmigration was set to kick off in 2013, when feasibility study begun. But, it was called off after the government smelt a rat in the contract price, according to the immigration department’s Commissioner General (CG), Dr Anna Makakala. With the assistance of the government of Ireland, on September 4, 2017 the government of Tanzania through the immigration department signed a contract for the implementation of the project with HID Global at a contract price of 57.82 million US dollars (128.5bn/-).
This means, the government would have incurred a loss of 374bn/- if it had agreed to implement the project at the initial contract price of 226 million US dollars that was recommended in 2013. In his speech that was beamed live by local radio and television stations, President Magufuli showered praises to the Immigration Department, saying the officials in the once underperforming department were currently discharging their duties effectively.
“In the previous years, there was a lot of laxity that led to issuance of passports to non- residents, including drug dealers who were tarnishing the image of our country abroad,’’ stated Dr Magufuli.
According to the Head of State, it had reached a time when Tanzanians were subjected to rigorous scanning due to the bad image that was painted by non-citizens, adding, that was the reason as to why he appointed the new Commissioner of the Immigration Department. President Magufuli said due to weaknesses in the department, many people were being issued with residential permits and passports, while they did not possess requisite qualifications and that revenue collection was poor.
However, he said there were notable improvements since he appointed Dr Makakala whom he directed to tighten all loopholes for corruption within the department. “You should deal with corrupt officials decisively and if possible sack or demote them.’’ he stressed.
The President further asked the Immigration boss to take stern action against the department’s regional commanders who failed to seal loopholes for illegal immigrants in their areas and that if possible they should be demoted.
The Head of State further promised to give the Immigration Department 10bn/- for the construction of its headquarters in Dodoma. “Look for a plot in Dodoma and when you are ready, tell me so that I can give you the money,” he added