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World Bank Salutes Reform Efforts in Tanzania

Panafrican News Agency (Dakar), 24 February 2001

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania - Tanzania has got a pat on the back from the World Bank for its economic performance since embarking on the road to a market economy 15 years ago.

The World Bank's economic report for 1999-2000 put the country's average GDP growth at 5 per cent, up from 3.5 per cent between 1995 and 1999.

This GDP growth and a reduction of inflation have put Tanzania on a sound footing towards economic recovery, said the report.

Inflation dwindled from 35.8 per cent in 1990 to 7.5 per cent in the 1999/2000 fiscal year mainly due to reforms in various sectors of the economy supported by the IMF and the World Bank since 1986.

The Bretton Woods institutions and western donors insist that Tanzania's economy has until the reforms, been bogged down by the 23-year socialist regime of President Julius Nyerere, during which the country experienced widespread nationalisation of private firms.

Since the recourse to World Bank/IMF economic reform measures, Tanzania's export volume jumped between 1990 from 336.8 million US dollars to 670 million dollars in 1999, thanks to an invigorated private sector alongside improved performance in the agricultural sector.

Tanzania, listed by the World Bank as one of the poorest countries in the world, was ranked in the report with Mozambique and Uganda as exemplary economic performers after swallowing the World Bank/IMF reform pill.

What has impressed donors and international financial institutions, said the report, is the country's pace of privatisation, in which more than 300 state-run and ailing firms have been sold or divested.

Upon coming to power in 1995, President Benjamin Mkapa restructured the country's tax system to broaden the revenue base. He also accelerated a restructuring of the financial sector to attract foreign investors in major sectors of the economy.

Before acquiescing to World Bank/IMF conditions, Tanzania experienced a negative economic growth between 1980 and 1985 when the country had no foreign reserves, and most state-owned enterprises had collapsed due to mismanagement and lack of capital.