World Bank Mum on Whether Statistics Discussed in Meeting with Tanzanian President Magufuli

By Toby McIntosh

The World Bank is not commenting on whether the Bank’s deep concerns about a new statistics law were discussed when the Bank’s top official in Tanzania met Oct. 9 with President John Magufuli.

“We are not making any further comments on this particular topic at this time,” according to Bank spokeswoman Loy Nabeta in an Oct. 11 e-mail responding to an inquiry from

Ten days ago, the Bank  said it is “deeply concerned” about restrictions placed on public comments about official statistics. The recently signed statute is “out of line with international standards,” the Bank said in statement to EYE. The law criminalizes the dissemination of “any statistical information which is intended to invalidate, distort or discredit official statistics.” (See EYE article.)

The Bank said it has “shared” its concerns with the Tanzanian government and is “in discussions with the Government on whether further support to building sustainable statistical systems is appropriate at this time.” Held up for the moment is a $50 million package of support for the government’s statistical operations.

Since then, the Bank has said nothing else on the subject.

No Comment

“We have now put out a statement on the matter and unfortunately, we are not making any further comments on this particular topic at this time,” Nabeki said.

Bank Country Director Bella Bird met with the president Oct. 9, according to press accounts, and afterward announced that the Bank will disburse 1.357 trillion Tanzanian shillings (about $59.4 million) in support of the country’s education sector.

Bella said, “President Magufuli and I chatted about the progress of a number of projects that we are already funding in the country… the implementation of most of these projects is progressing well.” The quote is from The Guardian’s report.

Her statement was “terse” according to a Xinhua article, which quoted Bird as saying, “”I have had held talks with President Magufuli to review progress on projects funded by the World Bank. Implementation of most of the projects is going well,”

The Bank’s current portfolio in Tanzania includes 25 operations with a commitment of nearly $3.95 billion, most of which is allocated to transport.