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World Bank withholds grant for Tanzania



The World Bank has confirmed it was withholding 50 million 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,’’ the bank in a terse statement said.

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.

Report says the new act seeks to criminalise the collection, analysis, and dissemination of any data without first obtaining authorisation 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 criminalises 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.