Revise statistics law, stakeholders request

STATISTICS stakeholders have requested the government to revise some sections of the Statistics Act, which limit their operations, noting that maintaining them would adversely impact development as such statistics are vital for planning in the country.

The Chairman of a non-forprofit company identified as Policy Forum, Mr Japhet Makongo, made the call in Dar es Salaam yesterday. when presenting recommendations from civil society organisations (CSO’s).

Mr Makongo said it was quite clear that the law was important in preventing the dissemination and publication of misleading statistical information to the public, but it also limits the operations of statistics stakeholders, which are contributing to national development.

“In accordance with various international conventions, protocols, the 1977 Constitution of Tanzania and different laws, we the members of Policy Forum, TWAWEZA and the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) have identified some limitations in the law and came up with some recommendations,” said Mr Makongo.

He noted, among recommendations, to include scrapping out the requirement of constantly applying for permits to prepare, collect and release statistics and also amend the part on the penalties by specifying the limit.

Among others include the law to identify the existence of institutions and stakeholders that are responsible for preparing independent statistics.

He, however, noted that the offences and penalties should be based on the entire process of supervising collection and dissemination of statistics and not all data, because such has been accounted for in Section 16 of the Penal Code.

According to him, Section 3 of the law provides for a new meaning of ‘official statistics’ refers to which has been prepared, verified, gathered and disseminated with the approval of National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

In reference to the above, the Chairman said the law has not given consideration to the roles of CSOs among other stakeholders, including media.

By so doing, statistics collectors are not permitted to release data based on combination of the meaning of official statistics and statistical information as identified under the various sections of the law.

“Section 3 and 18 of the law has vested NBS with greater powers of collecting and releasing official statistics, something which is against the African Charter on Statistics of 2009 which identifies the national bodies as those supervising the role of collecting and releasing at the national, regional and internationally,” he said.

He noted that the law mandates NBS with powers to issue permits for conducting research, supervise and approve statistics before its release.

Such a move has contributed to the constant demand of permits, something which is increasing bureaucracy and cost of operations.

The Communications Officer of Policy Forum, Ms Iman Hatibu, said their goal was not to criticize the government but to give recommendations that will help the government arrive at better and informed decisions on behalf of the people.

Ms Hatibu pointed out that the recommendations would be represented to the ministry responsible.

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