ECONOMIC REVIEW FOR THE YEAR 1974-5

Economic Review for the Year 1974-5 (Hali Ya Uchumi wa Taifa katika mwaka 1974-5) Government Printer, Dar es Salaam, price 20/-, 109 pp.

Internally the past year has been one of crucial importance to Tanzania. We print here a review by Mr. T.R. Sadleir of the annual government report on the economy:

‘This concise, clearly presented and well documented report, vividly illustrates the struggles of a developing country caught up in the current economic typhoon. Nor do its editors make any attempt to gloss over the harsh realities of a difficult situation, made worse by widespread failure of the rains (in 1974) leading to serious food shortages.

An admirable short summary in Part I enables the layman to appreciate both the extent of the problems posed by the twin blows of world inflation abroad and crop failure at home, and the countermeasures introduced so swiftly by the government to meet them. Thus we read that the poor harvests brought in their train the added difficulties of using up precious foreign exchange reserves for food imports, while the foreign exchange earnings themselves were depleted by reduced exports of cash crops, with the resultant foreign currency drain precluding the purchase of adequate new materials and machinery for industry and thus increasing production costs.

World wide inflation high-lighted by the doubling of the price of petrol together with the instability of major international currencies, reduced the amount of goods purchased overseas. Indeed the local rate of inflation reached 17.9% with the result that the national income only increased by 2.2%, the lowest growth rate so far in any year of the second Five Year Development Plan. Since population growth is estimated at 2.7% per annum, average output per head has also declined.

Although most of the main food crops, especially maize, rice and wheat were hard hit, (as were coffee, sisal and pyrethrum) cotton, tea, tobacco and cashew nuts actually yielded increased crops. The serious food shortages led to the launching at the beginning of 1975 of a national “Do or die cultivation campaign” (Kilimo chakufa na kupona) which required every able-bodied citizen, as well as government departments, parastatals and commercial companies to cultivate food. Initial results of this drive are said to be encouraging. (See below). The report points out that great strides were made in village development and that ‘more than half the population now live in planned villages’.

The balance of payments position also worsened during 1974. Although exports rose in value by 10.8% to a total of £143 million, imports rose by 54.3% to reach a total value of nearly £269 million – a deficit of £126 million compared to £45 million in 1973, largely because of the sudden increase in expensive food imports, the increased price of petrol and world wide inflation. Members of the Society will be interested to hear that imports from Britain were up by 20.8% to a record £30 million and that Britain still takes a larger share of Tanzania’s exports, £21 million, than any other single country, heading both import and export tables as Tanzania’s principal trading partner for the past 12 years. During the same period wages rose by 15.4%, being wisely perhaps kept 2.5% below the rate of inflation. Capital growth not surprisingly remained static.

Amidst the array of statistics human facts emerge. ‘Many health schemes unfinished because of a shortage of both builders and building materials; industry faced with shortages of raw materials; water, electricity, transport services, low standards of efficiency and high cost of spare parts; building projects delayed by shortage of experts and rising prices; electricity and water schemes behind schedule’ and so on.

More hopefully, educational expansion continued to make rapid progress. Parastatals increased their combined surpluses by 58% from £29 million to £47 million, whilst in 1974 the number of tourists rose by 32,000 to a new record of 177,000 and the first stage of the KIDATU higher-electric scheme was completed. Above all the great TAZARA FREEDOM RAILWAY from Dar es Salaam to Zambia was completed and was scheduled to start commercial services from the beginning of July 1975 (see below). Other items of good news were the discovery of natural gas on the island of Songo Songo, the start of an oil search in the Indian Ocean, and remarkable 287% increase in the output of tinned meat as a result of improved cattle marketing.

The report mirrors the entire Tanzanian scene and its 68 tables of statistics graphically convey a fascinating variety of information , ranging from retail price indices of food for low income groups in the capital, Dar es Salaam, and the future capital, Dodoma, through the sales of precious stones and the numbers of students in various faculties in the University, to the 87,750,000 dispensary out-patients treated in 1974! More important it succeeds in portraying the excitement and heartaches of the battle against poverty, ignorance and disease, whose initial impulse is being maintained ‘against all disaster’, and the sense of urgency gripping the dedicated few charged with implementing the Development Plan.

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