Tanzania'S government is seeking a 785 million US dollar (over 1.7tri/-) soft loan from the World Bank to execute development projects in the next fiscal year, Finance and Planning Minister, Dr Philip Mpango, said.

According to the minister, the projects include implementation of the second and third phase of the Bus Rapid Transit in Dar es Salaam which is expected to cost 425 million dollars (about 950bn/- ) and the 305 million dollar (678bn/-) expansion of the Dar es Salaam port.

Discussions are also underway to secure funds for construction of an interchange at Ubungo, we don't have the actual figure but initial estimates show that the project will require not less than 60 million US dollars (over 130bn/-).

Expansion of the Dar es Salaam port requires 600 million US dollars (over 1.3tri/-), but the World Bank has offered 305 million dollars for the first phase of the project, Dr Mpango elaborated.

He was speaking at a news conference in Dar es Salaam after a closed-door meeting with the Vice-President of the World Bank for Africa Region, Makhtar Diop, who is in the country for a working visit.

Dr Mpango, on the other hand, said the Bretton Woods institution had agreed to form a joint committee with the government to undertake policy reforms towards overhauling of the cash-strapped Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO).

Tanzania requires reliable and affordable energy for its industrialisation agenda, but this cannot be possible in the presence of the loss making Tanesco, there is a need for policy reforms in the energy sector, he explained.

There are as well ongoing projects on policy reforms to improve the business environment in Tanzania and capacity building in execution of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) projects under the World Bank funding.

The World Bank has pledged to assist us to secure investors to construct to sixlane the Chalinze-Dar es Salaam stretch on PPP arrangement, Dr Mpango remarked. He mentioned other ongoing World Bank funded projects and their amount in brackets as improvement of the business environment (80 million dollars), education sector (100 million dollars) and budget management and transparency (80 million dollars).

He noted further that the World Bank and the government of Tanzania would sign an agreement for a soft-loan to carry out the second-phase of water development project in Dar es Salaam.

Speaking at the conference, Diop hailed the fifth phase government for its anti-corruption crusade, but warned the government against indiscriminate borrowing, stressing that the national debt should remain sustainable. The World Bank top boss for Africa urged African countries to get rid of non-tariff barriers, which he described as trade impediments in the continent.

African countries should open up their borders to allow smooth movement of people and goods to boost regional trade. Today you will find one region with surplus food and another in deficit, but this could be addressed if we did away with barriers in trade among countries, he challenged.

Responding to questions from journalists, Diop said he expected no changes on trade agreements between Africa and other countries.