Wednesday, May 18, 2011

TANZANIA rejects BAE radar pay plan

TANZANIA on Tuesday strongly rejected BAE Systems' decision to pay the country 29.5 million pounds (about 74bn/-) in settlement arising from controversial sale of a radar, through a charity organization instead of the government.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Bernard Membe, told a news conference in Dar es Salaam, that the decision was
unfair and an irreverent gesture in the eyes of the international community.

"The money was stolen from the government and should go back to the government, and not anywhere else," the minister told journalists in his office.

He insisted that if BAE would pay the money through a charity organisation then that institution would not be allowed to conduct its activities in the country.

Mr Membe said reports from London indicate that BAE Systems, Britain's biggest defence company, set up a panel on how to allocate 29.5 million pounds it agreed to refund Tanzania as part of its settlement with the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

The payment is part of a deal reached in February 2010, to settle a bribery investigation by SFO, in which investigators dropped their prosecution and agreed a 30 million pound settlement with BAE, for failure to keep proper accounting records of the radar sale.

After paying a small amount to the courts in the UK, the defence company was left with 29.5 pounds to be given to Tanzanians. BAE said its policy was to deal with charities and not governments.

Mr Membe said he was shocked by the British company's decision, adding that it now appears to be seeking to cleanse itself in an unjust manner to the government of Tanzania.

"These people are desperately trying to exonerate themselves of a graft scandal and pass the buck to the government, for the world to believe that Tanzania is so corrupt that it cannot be trusted," he said.

The minister said Tanzanian and British governments had earlier agreed to spend the money on various projects in education sector including procurement of 4.4 million textbooks, 192,00 reference books for 12 subjects in primary schools.

The money, he added, was also supposed to be spent on procurement of 200,000 desks, construction of 1,196 teachers' houses and 2,900 school latrines.

Source: Daily News

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