Planning, project agencies of 1960s not suitable at present

08Dec 2021
Editor
The Guardian
Planning, project agencies of 1960s not suitable at present

VETERAN development administrators have had a good time espousing the development ethos of the 1960s, basically the way the government gradually built up institutional foundations of a planned economy, signaling that these institutions ought to be revived.

As invitation of guests or keynote speakers to an audience for instance at the University of Dar es Salaam is done with care, and taking into account what the listening public wishes to hear, there is little doubt that the views of a number of top government officials of the first phase and well into the second phase are widely shared there. It isn’t frankly a secret.

A keynote contributor to those discussions was Col. (rtd) Joseph Simbakalia, veteran top administrator for the National Development Corporation (NDC) who laid out the case for revitalizing the NDC, the Tanzania Development Finance Co. (TDFL) that looks like the Tanzania Investment Bank (TIB) with its periodical restructuring. Other agencies whose roles he emphasised include the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) and the Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO). It is clear that a few of those agencies mentioned are still around with limited role, which he urged this is boosted.

As a matter of fact the number of institutions of that period that the retired administrator cited as exemplary could be prolonged, and he indeed may have censured himself not to go the whole hog – for instance to extol the central place of the old National Bank of Commerce in the country’s economy. Failing to see that the country had to make a clean break with a planned economy was a problem in his remarks. The economy is quickly driven to the ground when the public sector is dominant, as their loss making tendency compels interminable Treasury subsidies; weakening the currency, crippling services.

Those discussants or panelists were well aware that they were on safe territory where it is rare, if indeed not out of place, to discuss the weaknesses and failures of not just the country’s experience with planned economy but its failure as a model of economy worldwide.  Former radically socialist countries changed into market economies with different levels of national control of major economic outlets, where foreign companies aren’t allowed to hold shares, or dominant shares. But they extensively borrowed from outside and rely on world markets for a big part of what they produce after modernization, as we do at present.

So veteran administrators will help the youth at UDSM and elsewhere by realistically making suggestions as to what can be improved at the moment, by assessing improvements being done now. Seeking to relive the 1960s and’70s, wishing to fortify institutions of that period is to ignore the biting shortages and awful degradation of the conditions of living, ineffective delivery of services, early 1980s. Things changed when the government opened doors to private investments, vastly boosting revenues, and we are trying to perfect this at present. Cheers!