-- The Tanzanian government will continue to pursue sustainable economic diplomacy to boost the national economy, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, East Africa and Regional Cooperation, Dr Augustine Mahiga, said.

The minister made the emphasis in the National Assembly when tabling his 151.4bn/- budget estimates for the 2016/2017 fiscal year. Tanzania started embarking on economic diplomacy in 2001 seeking to improve its economy through its relations with other countries.

According to the minister, out of the budget estimates, a total of 143.396bn/- will be spent on recurrent expenditure whereas theremaining 8bn/- will be spent on development projects. Some of the development projects to be implemented include construction of a building to house the ministry offices next to the Julius International Convention Centre (JNICC) in Dar es Salaam, renovation of Tanzania's embassy buildings in Mozambique, Sweden and Sudan.

On the other hand, Dr Mahiga said in the next fiscal year the ministry, through Tanzanian embassies abroad, plans to collect revenues amounting to 24.001bn/-.

On the other hand, Dr Mahiga informed the House that President John Magufuli has directed that the East African Community (EAC) flag should be hoisted alongside the Tanzania flag at all public offices and that the community's anthem should be played at all functions where the national anthem is played.

Among others, the move is aimed at creating public awareness among Tanzanians about the regional bloc -- to enable them participate and benefit from business and investment opportunities in the regional grouping with a population of about 145 million people.

"In his capacity as the current Chairman of the EAC, President Magufuli has instructed, through my ministry, increased use of the community's anthem and flag in Tanzania.

"I thus take this opportunity to inform the august House on the directive and this should cover all public offices, including central and local governments in addition to public organisations," Dr Mahiga explained.

He urged the private sector and MPs to heed to the directive by hoisting the EAC flag at their offices and vehicles alongside the national flag. "In the same vein, I urge the electronic media to play the community's anthem whenever the national anthem is played," Dr Mahiga urged.

The minister explained further that the move is part of a communication strategy by the ministry on enabling Tanzanians to get prepared and make use of openings in the regional grouping.

The EAC is made up of six countries -- Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda while South Sudan was approved as a new member early this year. During the 17th EAC Heads of States Meeting in Arusha in March, Tanzania was chosen as the chair of the regional bloc for a second year running until November this year.

The Vice-Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security, Masoud Ali Khamis (Mfenesini-CCM) noted with concern that as of March this year, the ministry had not received a penny out of the 8bn/- budgeted for development vote in the current fiscal year.

Presenting the views of the committee on the ministry's estimates, Khamis noted as well that during the period, the ministry received only 110.7bn/- out of 146.9bn/- allocated for the year.

For his part, the Shadow Minister for the Ministry, Reverend Peter Msigwa (Iringa Urban-Chadema) took issues with what he described as poor state of buildings hosting Tanzanian embassies abroad as well as shortage of personnel in the missions.

In his presentation of the opposition's analysis of the budget estimates, Msigwa proposed as well that the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) should form a system to track remittances of Tanzanians in foreign countries to be able to appreciate their contribution to the local economy.

Msigwa recommended as well that the government should formalise the remittances to boost the economy as it has been done in other countries such as Ethiopia and Kenya, which have benefited immensely from their citizens in the Diaspora.

Source: Nam News Network