Civil society calls for  review of Statistics Act

06Dec 2018
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
 Civil society calls for  review of Statistics Act

THE Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called for the amendment of sections introduced recently in the Statistics Act (2015) which hinder research activities and dissemination of statistical information that are critical for the country’s development.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam yesterday during a meeting to evaluate the 2018 revisions to the law, members of CSOs said that if left as it is, the legislation will have a regressive effects on Tanzania’s progress by restricting free generation and communication of statistical information.

Giving an example of restrictive provisions in the law, chairman of Policy Forum Japhet Makongo observed that section 3 of the law defines official statistics as information generated, verified and disseminated by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) alone.

According to Makongo, giving NBS exclusive ownership of official statistics means that other stakeholders who engage in conducting surveys and generation of information such as research organisations and media entities have been edged out by the law.

“This law states that all other entities engaging in production and dissemination of statistical information cannot do so without authorisation from NBS. This means lack of alternative information,” Makongo argued.

He explained that sections 3 and 18 of the law that gives NBS exclusive rights to own official statistics are in contravention of the African Charter on Statistics (2009) which defines official statistics as statistical information generated by relevant state agencies and other private organisations .

“The sections have introduced bureaucracy in the process of generating and disseminating statistical information, making it unnecessarily impossible for citizens to access various statistics,” he said.

Moreover, the law does not stipulate time frame within which NBS must work on an application from other entities to conduct research nor does it tell procedures to be followed, Makongo lamented, adding that the legislation had shouldered all statistical research responsibilities in all government ministries and agencies on NBS which he feared could hamper its ability to deliver.

“The law does not provide room for appeal in case NBS rejects an application from a private entity to conduct a research,” he added.

The Tanzania Constitution Forum (TCF) executive director Hebron Mwakagenda said it is the position of CSOs that the law be amcitizens’ right to seek, receive and disseminate information.

He added that CSOs also wants sections on penalty to be confined to official statistical information and not none official information.

“We want the law to recognise private institutions that generate alternative and independent statistical information for healthy debate for the development of our country,” he added.

The Statistics Act No. 9 of 2015 became operational in November 2015 through the Government Notice No. 491 of October 30, 2015 with the aim of establishing and coordinating the national statistical system.

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