IMF faults amended statistics law  

28Oct 2018
The Guardian Reporter
Guardian On Sunday
IMF faults amended statistics law  
  • It is the second Bretton Woods institution to do so after the World Bank faulted the law early last month

THE International Monetary Fund has raised serious concern over the country’s amendments to the national statistics law.

This comes a few weeks after the World Bank expressed similar concerns over the revisions.

Tanzania’s lawmakers passed amendments that criminalise publication of figures that haven’t been approved by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) or other official bodies in September, this year, changes the World Bank said were “out of line with international standards.”

The amendments also impose fines or a minimum three-year jail term on anyone found guilty of questioning official figures.

The law also prohibits individuals and institutions which conduct surveys, opinion polls and other forms of research from disseminating their findings for public consumption without prior approval of the NBS.

The Miscellaneous Amendments Act No.3, 2018 directs that any persons collecting and disseminating data must seek prior NBS approval before their dissemination.

“We are awaiting further information from the authorities about the implication of the amendments and any regulations that may be issued to operationalise them,” IMF Resident Representative Bhaswar Mukhopadhyay said in an emailed response to questions.

A local newspaper earlier this month reported that the World Bank had frozen disbursement of a $50 million grant to Tanzania because of the statistics law amendments.

Rights activists had warned that passage of the law, which is yet to receive presidential approval, was part of a broader government crackdown on dissent and criticism of its political and economic records.

Kigoma Urban MP Zitto Kabwe (ACT-Wazalendo) said in parliament this year that the proposed amendments would curtail the statistical freedom enjoyed by various institutions in the country, including totally prohibiting independent data interpretation.

“It is unfit for the growth of professional research development,” the lawmaker noted, saying the move indicated that if the government was not satisfied with research findings by an individual or institution then almost automatically NBS would not approve dissemination of the findings.

IMF officials will conduct an Article IV-related mission to Tanzania at the end of next month, Mukhopadhyay said.

In its last review, the lender said that while the country had a relatively strong macroeconomic performance, implementation of structural reforms had been uneven.

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