Massive fraud rocks 62bn/- agricultural inputs claims
THE government has uncovered massive fraud on claims of the outstanding 62bn/- it owes agents who supplied subsidised agricultural inputs.
Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Permanent Secretary (PS), Eng Mathew Mtigumwe, told the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday that verification conducted by his office discovered that some of the claims were not genuine.
Eng Mtigumwe explained that after the councils presented the claims to his office, they were submitted to the Treasury for payment, but the funds were not released due to questions raised over the figures.
He said that following the queries, his ministryconducted verification of several agents in 10 regions and discovered that the debt was not real.
The verification conducted by the ministry officials who were dispatched to the 10 regions covering 70 per cent of the agents, discovered irregularities, Eng Mtigumwe said. He said that after the verification, it was discovered that out of 42bn/- of which the government owes the agents in the ten regions, only 8bn/- was real while 14bn/- was forged.
He noted that the status of the remaining amount was not established because some agents did not show up for the exercise. We have submitted the report to the Treasury so that it can verify and decide on the payments, Eng Mtigumwe said.
Earlier, Sumbawanga Urban legislator, Aeshi Hilaly (CCM), wanted to know whether the government had cleared the debt it owes agents who supplied agricultural inputs in 2015 and last year.
There are agents who supplied agricultural inputs to farmers in 2015 and 2016, but they have not been paid their money, what are the plans by the government in settling the debts, the lawmaker asked.
He also said that farmers in Rukwa and Katavi regions were last year supplied with fake seeds as a result they ended up getting poor yields. If the agents who supplied fake seeds were prosecuted, are there plans to compensate farmers who incurred losses, the MP questioned.
Special Seats MP, Felister Bura (CCM), said that the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) report indicated that farmers continued to use poor quality seeds due to lack of better seeds and pesticides.
She said that farmers in her region have been purchasing poor quality seeds as a result they continued to get poor yields. It is high time the ministry produces high quality seeds in order to improve the livelihood of farmers, she said.
Responding, the PS said that although various researches have been conducted to get better seeds, the area has been facing a number of challenges. He said that currently, the country has the capacity of producing only 12 per cent of the entire demand of seeds in the country.
Eng Mtigumwe noted that his ministry was currently working on some challenges which have been affecting farmers and the entire sector.