Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Publication of official data should be timely

By TheCitizen

Evidence matters a lot in making an assertion. Towards the end of last week unconfirmed reports claimed that monthly collections by the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) had plummeted.

Silence on the part of TRA gave room to speculation. This was coupled with claims that the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) had not published its monthly economic reviews for the past three months.

Allowing speculation to take centre stage is never a good thing. Some economists argue that almost every financial crisis since the tulip mania of the 1630s can be attributed to some sort of mass speculation. Some literature also says that there is no question that speculation caused the financial crisis of 2008, first in housing and then in derivative securities.

We can thus conclude that unnecessary speculation should not be allowed to thrive. It is important for the relevant authorities to provide timely information and do so consistently.

This probably emphasizes the need for official information to be communicated without delay. Numbers don’t lie, so goes the saying. Authorities such as TRA, BoT and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) need to speak more with numbers. They should also let the numbers speak for themselves.

It is on this basis that we commend TRA for the data it released to the media yesterday showing that in the quarter ending September 30, 2017, revenue collected amounted to Sh3.65 trillion.

This figure is almost double what had been speculated that the taxman only collected around Sh600 billion per month during the quarter in question.

We are of the conviction that the released figures will bring a lot of relief not only to the ordinary Tanzanian, but also to local and foreign investors alike. Our advice to the government, especially to authorities mandated with releasing official statistics, is that it is important to be consistent in the release of such information to avoid giving room to speculation.

AGA KHAN’S VISIT WELCOME

Tanzania today plays host to His Highness the Aga Khan in a visit that will rekindle the special relation the country has enjoyed with the Prince as the head of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). It will not be the first time that the Aga Khan will be visiting Tanzania, but it is significant that the visiting will be taking during the leadership of President John Magufuli.

President Magufuli’s invitation to the Aga Khan to visit Tanzania signals a positive and mutual respect they have for each other’s unique position to impact directly on the development of the people of Tanzania. The visit also coincides with the commemoration of the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee – a celebration of the 60 years that the Prince has been the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community.

Jubilees in the Shia Ismaili Muslim tradition have traditionally served as opportunities to launch or advance social, cultural and economic development projects and Tanzania, as a vital area of AKDN’s investment, can expect to benefit further.

As we welcome his Highness the Aga Khan, it is worth noting how significant his visit is –in terms of the confidence it creates on the county’s economy at a time when the public debate is on the challenge on how to win investors committed to a win-win situation.

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