Why the secrecy about economic growth news?

Why the secrecy about economic growth news?

These should have included the kind of industries that were established; their respective locations and dates when they became operational; their owners/shareholders; the amounts of money invested in each industry, et cetera… Chami only went so far as to taunt his audience — and Tanzanians in general — that if anyone were interested in the details, they could/should go to the ministry for them!

This is all very well… But, for God’s sake, Tanzanians as a people — as well as much of the world, including especially the country’s development partners within the international donor and creditor communities — would want to know what’s going on in the country in the crucial social and economic sectors. As it happens, however, not many of them can trek to the Ministry in Dar to obtain the details.

Indeed, Tanzanians have the constitutional right to get information without prejudice… Specifically, Article 18(2) of the 1977 Union Constitution (as amended from time to time) provides that ‘a citizen has the right to be informed at all times of various events in the country — and in the world at large —which are of importance to the lives and activities of the people, and also of issues of importance to society.’

Under normal circumstances, one would’ve ordinarily expected the minister responsible for Industry (and Trade) at any given time to be at the forefront of releasing for general public consumption such positive news in great detail. Matters of socio-economic development in a country like Tanzania which is struggling to grow in a hostile world shouldn’t be protected as state/military secrets.

They should be given the widest possible publicity as a matter of course — if only because good news more often than not builds up morale and engenders the spirit to do even better in the future. In such a situation, withholding developmental news that’s positive is tantamount to doing untold disservice to Tanzanians in particular, and the country’s partners-in-development at large.

It is, therefore, imperative that the Ministry releases details of socioeconomic developments as a matter of course, beginning with the 18 ‘new’ industries spoken of by former Minister Chami. Furthermore, it behooves the new minister at Industry & Trade, Abdallah Kigoda, to henceforth publish such news as a matter of routine so that Tanzanians — unto whom he is beholden as a principal public official — will know what’s going on, instead of running the Ministry/country behind the scenes, so to speak.

While we’re at it, we take this opportunity to congratulate local industries which are doing reasonably well in what are proving to be very difficult conditions for industrial and other commercial operations. Apparently, not only are the industries producing, marketing/exporting, paying taxes, fulfilling corporate social responsibilities and otherwise contributing to the national income… Quite a few of them are also innovative, coming out with new/improved processes and products, thus playing a role in technological development.

In this regard, one cannot help but mention, for example, the A-to-Z factory in Arusha which has ‘invented’ functional bags made from natural fibre for packing agricultural and horticultural produce, as well as netting for protecting farm crops! Reportedly, the nets and bags are treated with special chemicals which protect crops from pests as they grow on the farm, as well as produce in storage from pestilential ‘monsters’ — including the ‘Large Grain Borer!’ Apparently, the two products are the result of a
two-year collaborative effort by A-to-Z, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, America’s Michigan State University, and the research centre SIRD. [Mwananchi: April 24, 2012].

Considering that Tanzania loses up to 60% of its horticultural products, and 35% of other agricultural produce on the farm and in storage, the innovations are most welcome, indeed! Considering further the major role which Agriculture plays in Tanzania’s economy — and that A-to-Z cannot meet the demand for its new products countrywide and the export market — other industrial enterprises should take up the slack.

They could seek to be licensed to produce the A-to-Z items, or ‘invent’ their own! For its part, the Govt. should speed up expansion of the country’s electricity-generating and distribution capacity. Not only would this attract new investments; it’d also encourage existing investors to expand — and have a good night’s sleep as a matter of course, knowing that power inadequacy is no longer a headache. Cheers!



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