The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation yesterday came under scrutiny in the House, accused of embezzlement and gross mismanagement of public funds.

Opposition legislator Leticia Nyerere (Chadema)

Opposition legislator Leticia Nyerere (Chadema) blasted Tanzanian diplomats abroad for misusing public resources contrary to public expenditure regulations and laws.

However, the government denied the allegations raised by the legislators as wrong and a distortion of reality.

In her basic question, the opposition legislator said during the 2009/10 financial year the government spent about 32m/- to clear health service bills for diplomats abroad without supporting documents.

“I want to know when the government will produce supporting documents and receipts for such expenditures?” asked Nyerere.

Responding, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mahadhi Juma Maalim said that it was true that there were concerns and questions raised over 32m/- which was used to foot health bills for Tanzanian diplomats abroad.

However, he said the ministry had worked on the issue and the ministry had already submitted relevant supporting documents for the expenditures to the Controller and Auditor General (CAG).

Clarifying, Maalim said under existing civil service regulations, embassies were supposed to contract health insurance firms which would be paying health bills for “embassy officials in the respective countries.”

“In countries which have no such schemes or the system is there but our embassies have not paid health insurance firms for a long time, the respective firms stop providing services to our diplomats.

“In this case, our diplomats are forced to pay for health services using their money and come later to claim their cash…of course with supporting receipts,” said the minister.

According to the minister, such disruption of the system attracted questions and doubts over the 32m/- which was spent contrary to laid down regulations and procedures, out of 1.5bn/- allocated in the 2009/10 financial year as health package for Tanzanian diplomats abroad.

BY JUDICA TARIMO, The Guardian

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