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Tuesday, 2 July, 2002, 13:32 GMT 14:32 UK
Short to discuss radar row
Dar Es Salaam International Airport
Tanzania's main airport may benefit from the deal
UK International Development Secretary Clare Short is visiting Tanzania to discuss the controversial sale of a 28m British air traffic control system.

Ms Short has publicly criticised the sale of such an expensive system to an east African nation heavily in debt.

The deal sparked a furore last year when the World Bank said it was more expensive than necessary and used cash better spent on health and education.

On Tuesday, Ms Short is due to meet Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, who has said the BAE Systems radar is needed to ensure air safety.

Extra revenue?

Mr Mkapa has defended the deal as transparent and good value for money.

His government argues the radar will able to track foreign aircraft flying over the country and collect taxes from them.
Clare Short
Clare Short has publicly criticised the deal

Tanzanian officials also say they want a military system that covers all of the country's airspace.

Ms Short tried to have the sale blocked but was apparently overruled in the cabinet.

A new World Bank-commissioned report echoes her concerns, saying the Tanzanians could have bought a perfectly good air traffic control system for a quarter of the price, or even much less.

The sale has nevertheless gone ahead and Ms Short will use her visit to try to prevent such affairs in the future.

Opposition politicians in Tanzania, as well as the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in the UK, are demanding a full investigation into the full circumstances of the sale.

BAE Systems has defended its role, as has Barclays Bank, which provided a cheap loan so the Tanzanian government could buy the system.

'Fraud' questions

Lib Dem international development spokesman Norman Lamb said he had written to BAE Systems and Barclays asking them to meet MPs so full details of the detail were made public.

"Anything that sheds light on this murky deal should be welcomed," said Mr Lamb about Ms Short's visit.

Mr Lamb last week suggested in the Commons that the contract price might have been "fiddled" so it looked as though Barclays were offering a cheap loan.

Trade Minister Alan Johnson said the Department of Trade had "absolutely no evidence that there had been any fraud or bungs offered".


Talking PointTALKING POINT
Radar deal
Is the UK's deal with Tanzania justified?

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24 Dec 01 | UK Politics
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