REVIEW OF THE NATIONAL ECONOMY 1975-76

Analysis of REVIEW OF THE NATIONAL ECONOMY, 1975-1976 (Hali ya Uchumi wa Taifa katika Mwaka 1975-76) published by the Government Printer, Dar es Salaam, 117 pages, price 25sh.

The first thing which I noticed about the latest Review of the National Economy was that its price had increased by 25%, eloquent testimony to the still prevalent rate of inflation, which at 14.9% increase showed a decline from the 17.4% of the previous year. The opening sentence reminds us poignantly of stark African realities when it states that ‘the fear of famine lessened as a result of the fruits of the Do or Die Cultivation Campaign.’ Nonetheless, the National Income for 1975 increased by 4.6% – more them double the rate for 1974 largely owing to the greatly increased output of food crops. Output from other key sectors remained either at the 1974 level or slightly less.

Industrial output, for example, again decreased, with only pyrethrum dust insecticide showing and improvement because of increased acreage under cultivation. Reasons listed for the decline include shortage of raw materials, spares and essential equipment partly owing to higher prices, partly due to shortage of foreign exchange; lack of adequate capital investment; occasional shortages of water and electricity in Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Arusha and Mwanza, affecting breweries, cigarette and textile factories amongst others; scarcity of technical expertise in dealing with production schedules, and inability to follow up problems and put then right. Also, two somewhat bizarre reasons – ‘Lack of success in certain factories for various reasons,’ and ‘other technical and leadership problems in Fibre Board E.A factories in Arusha and in the Uvinza Salt Mines’: prob1eLls too peculiar to contemplate!

The output of minerals continued to decline by 14.3% as against a drop of 4.79% in 1974 largely due to a decrease in the mining of diamonds and gem stones. However one rejoices to read that gold is confidently expected to be produced again this year on the Lupa.

The building programme now concentrating on the new capital at Dodoma and improvements to Dar es Salaam harbour following the completion of the Uhuru railway, delayed by a serious cement shortage caused by the failure of the local cement industry, with an output of only 310,000 tons to match the current demand of 700,000 tons per annum. Present extensions to the Portland Cement factory at Wazo Hill near Dar es Salaam should help to improve the position.

The balance of payments continues to pose problems. In 1975 exports decreased by 3.4% from £143 million in 1974 to £138 million in 1975, while imports increased by 8.3% from £269 million to £284 million mainly composed of machinery and equipment, a largo proportion of which comprised the rolling stock for the new railway. Thus the trade gap widened from a deficit of £126 million in 1974 to £146 million in 1975, while foreign currency reserves dwindled by over another £1 million, insignificant compared to the catastrophic drop of £30 million the previous year.

Parastatals again increased their combined surpluses, this time by 20%. Unfortunately figures for the number of tourists visiting Tanzania in 1975 were not available for the first time for many years, although somewhat mysteriously tourist bed-units in hotels, which are given, increased by almost 20% from 493,000 to 592,000, so it looks as if all records were again broken in this vitally important invisible export industry. It would be interesting to know how many visitors came from Britain but the breakdown in the excellent statistical tables only extends to Europe.

Britain again led the foreign trade tables with imports from Britain up by over 30% from £30 millions to £39 millions; although exports to Britain decreased by 16% from £21 million to £17 million she was still able to maintain her lead over any single country. Imports from China were down 7% following the completion of the railway. At home prices continued to go up but nothing like to the same extent as in 1974 – an overall rise of 7.2% compared to 40.5% But to the low income group of workers in Dar es Salaam this hit harder than to any other section of the community.

An encouraging advance in the Social Services showed medical priorities being given to village health services and preventive medicine, whilst the new Bagamoyo hospital was opened in July 1976. 50% of 106 new dispensaries were finished during the year, the KEKO pharmaceutical plant completed and drug trials started.

The educational effort is trying to meet the exciting target of getting every child of the right age a Primary school place by November 1977 and succeeded in increasing the number of pupils in Primary school by 232,411 children, a 50% increase, as a result of unspecified ‘urgent and revolutionary methods’ [see also later article].

The same methods doubtless contributed to the fact that by May 1976 some 12 million people, some 85% of the population, lived in 8,000 planned villages an increase of some 30% over the previous year.

While the authors may make the modest disclaimer that ‘the progress of our economy during 1975 was on the whole disappointing’, this fascinating document vividly reveals how Tanzania has brilliantly succeeded in turning economic factors to her own social and political ends.

Randal Sadleir

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