Dar es Salaam. The World Bank is holding up to $50million (equivalent to Sh112billion) for Tanzania, saying it’s deeply concerned about restrictions that the government has placed on freedom speech concerning statistics.
The $50 million grant was intended to support government statistical activities in Tanzania but latest reports indicate that this support may have to wait longer.
WB says it’s in “discussions with the government of Tanzania on whether further support to building sustainable statistical systems is appropriate at this time.”
President John Magufuli is expected to sign into law the new Statistics Act which was passed on September 10 by Parliament in Dodoma.
The new Act seeks to criminalize the collection, analysis, and dissemination of any data without first obtaining authorization from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
World Bank on Monday October 1 said it had “shared” its concerns with the Tanzanian government and was “in discussions” with officials about a new Act.
The WB was responding to a query raised by Eye on Global Transparency on its online platform: www.eyeonglobaltransparency.net, and the bank is reported to have said the law is “out of line with international standards such as the UN Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics and the African Charter on Statistics.”
World Bank Tanzania Communications Officer, Loy Nabeta confirmed to The Citizen that what was reported by the Eye on Global Transparency was indeed authentic.
She said, “Yes - the link is factual – that statement by the World Bank was issued in response to the query from Freedom.org.”
WB was quoted as saying, “We have shared our concerns with the Tanzanian authorities that the amendments, if implemented, could have serious impacts on the generation and use of official and non-official statistics, which are a vital foundation for the country’s development.”
The new law criminalizes the dissemination of “any statistical information which is intended to invalidate, distort or discredit official statistics.”
Offenses are punishable by a $6,000 fine or a three-year prison