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Tanzania halt Regional Assembly debate on annual Statistics Bill

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzania on Friday halted debate on the much anticipated regional statistics bill by members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).

Burundi Minister for EAC Affairs Isabelle Ndahayo announced postponement of debate on the bill following Tanzania’s request.

Thirteen EALA members from Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan supported the adjournment of the debate of the crucial legislative document.

Tanzania has asked to be allowed more time for further consultations on the bill that was aimed at establishing a regional statistical body.

Through a letter to the clerk of the regional Assembly on Monday, Tanzania was opposed to certain provisions in the bill.

It has also rejected amendments proposed by the EALA Committee on Communications, Trade and Investment submitted by the EAC Council of Ministers on September 24.

The bill provides for the functions, powers, governance and its funding with a view to establishing an institution responsible for statistics to support the monetary union protocol signed in 2013.

EALA, the legislative organ of the EAC, has been meeting in Arusha since Sept. 16, with the statistics bill top on its agenda.


World Bank withholds grant for Tanzania over restrictions on statistics

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- The World Bank confirmed on Tuesday that it was withholding 50 million U.S. dollars of grant for Tanzania because the bank was deeply concerned about restrictions that the government has placed on freedom of speech concerning statistics.

The grant was intended to support government statistical activities in Tanzania but latest reports indicated that this support may have to wait longer.

"We are in discussions with the government of Tanzania on whether further support to building sustainable statistical systems is appropriate at this time," said the bank in a terse statement.

President John Magufuli was expected to sign into law the new Statistics Act which was passed on Sept. 10 by Parliament in the capital 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).

The World Bank on Monday said it had "shared" its concerns with the Tanzanian government and was "in discussions" with officials about the new act.

The new statistics 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-dollars fine or a three-year prison term.


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