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Tanzania appoints new finance minister in reshuffle

Source: Reuters - Sun, 19 Jan 2014 16:51 GMT
Author: Reuters
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DAR ES SALAAM, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Tanzania named a new finance minister in a reshuffle on Sunday after the man she replaced died in office, but the promotion of the former minister's deputy is not expected to herald a policy change in the fast-growing east African economy.

President Jakaya Kikwete also named new ministers for justice, home affairs, defence, health and tourism, a statement from the president's office said. The minister for energy in the country, which is sitting on big gas finds, was unchanged.

The reshuffle also comes after Kikwete sacked four ministers on Dec. 20 following accusations of abuses committed by security forces during a huge operation against wildlife poaching.

The new finance minister, Saada Mkuya Salum, replaces William Mgimwa, who died on Jan. 1 after a long illness. She was deputy minister since 2012 and before that finance commissioner in the Zanzibar government, a semi-autonomous region.

"The appointment of the new finance minister signals that there will be continuity at the Finance Ministry," said Honest Ngowi, an economics lecturer at Mzumbe University's Business School in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

"This is a donor-dependent economy, therefore it needs to engage donors in a continuous debate," he said. "Donors have engaged with Saada Mukya frequently when she was deputy finance minister."

Tanzania, like other east African economies, has been enjoying solid growth and could see a big boost once it starts exploiting major offshore gas discoveries, although production and exports from those fields is still several years away.

The minister for energy and minerals, Sospeter Muhongo, was not replaced.

The World Bank said in December the economy was likely to grow by about 7 percent annually in the next two years, but also said the budget deficit at 6.2 percent of gross domestic product exceeded the level agree with the International Monetary Fund.

The bank also warned the government against raising its spending based on unpredictable future gas earnings. (Reporting by Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala; Editing by Edmund Blair and Mike Collett-White)

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