Zitto turns heat on BoT for its ‘inefficiency’

Mr Zitto.
Opposition MP Zitto Kabwe has criticised the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) for failing to publish monthly economic reports on time.He said that was an indication of irresponsibility and inefficiency. “It also infringes on the right of the people to access information,” he cautioned.

“It goes against President Jakaya Kikwete’s pronouncements in international that his government is committed to disseminating information. It can also be an attempt to hide crucial data to give the impression that the economy is doing well while it isn’t.”

He hinted that he had heard of a report of foreign currency reserves having declined to the equivalent of one month of imports, down from about four months of imports a few years ago.

The Kigoma North lawmaker on a Chadema ticket noted in a statement yesterday that there was no sound reason for BoT’s failure to publish the reports monthly for the last six months.The last monthly economic report released covers November 2011. The bank also did not publish a quarterly economic bulletin.

Mr Kabwe said it was the BoT’s duty to keep information up-to-date in monthly and quarterly reports.  “These documents provide information on all important issues relating to the economy such as inflation, revenue and expenditure, international trade trend and debts of the United Republic and Zanzibar.”

He urged Prof Ndulu to ensure that monthly reviews were published at the right time. He said by the end of the week starting from yesterday, the central bank website should contain information of December, January, February, March and April.

However, BoT governor Benno Ndulu responded to accusations, saying various reasons including a change in the mode of publishing them delayed the process. “The Monetary Policy Committee used to meet monthly, however, since January it has been meeting once in two months. The change has led to delays in publishing the reports,” Prof Ndulu told The Citizen yesterday by phone.

 He said BoT would stop issuing such documents monthly and instead they would be made available once in two months. “But the reports will contain details of the two months.”He allayed fears that the bank was running out of foreign exchange reserves, saying it had $3.6 billion, which could cover four months of imports.

He promised that the bank would release reports of up to February in the coming few days. “We never hide any information. We have an open door policy. It is the change of some procedures that that has delayed the publication of the reports.”

Financial gurus and economists have warned that BoT delays to publish the reports would have negative implications to the economy as most organisations and foreign investors depended on them to make their decisions.

Unavailability of up-to-date data on the central bank website raises questions of its credibility and ability to deliver,” said a Mzumbe University economics lecturer, Dr Honest Ngowi. “The delays have direct, negative impacts on researchers who are doing studies in macroeconomic reviews because without data from the central bank they won’t be able to update information.”

Dr Ngowi said some researchers in Tanzania were sourcing data about the country from international organisations such as the UN Conference on Trade and Development.Apart from BoT, the Tanzania Investment Centre has been delaying in issuing investment reports.
Source: The Citizen,www.thecitizen.co.tz, reported by Sturmius Mtweve

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