Tanzania blocks IMF report release as economic growth slows

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Tanzania’s government declined to authorize the publication of the International Monetary Fund’s report on the state of the East African nation’s economy, which could have significant implications for foreign investment and aid flows.

Under Article IV of its Articles of Agreement, the IMF is authorized to inspect the economic, financial and exchange-rate policies of its members to ensure a smooth-running international monetary system. This entails at least one annual visit by IMF economists to the member country to analyze data and hold meetings with government and central bank officials. They submit a report to the executive board, which then transmits its views to the country’s government and publishes a summary of the report on its website with the consent of the member nation.

“On March 18, 2019, the executive board of the IMF concluded the consideration of the 2019 Article IV Consultation with the United Republic of Tanzania,” the IMF said in an emailed statement on Wednesday. “The authorities have not consented to publication of the staff report or the related press release.”

The Washington-based lender sees economic expansion slowing to 4 percent this year from 6.6 percent in 2018, according to projections published earlier this month. Mineral- and gas-rich Tanzania has East Africa’s largest economy after Kenya.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli, nicknamed the bulldozer, has won accolades for his fight against corruption and government inefficiency and also drawn a lot of criticism for presiding over policies that investors say will hurt Africa’s fourth-biggest gold producer.

In 2017, he demanded $190 billion in back taxes from Acacia Mining Ltd., which led to the company agreeing to establish a model to equally share the economic benefits from its mines and pay $300 million to the state as a “show of good faith.”

This year, he managed to squeeze a bigger shareholding for the state in Bharti Airtel Ltd.’s local unit after insisting the telecommunications provider acquired its initial stake irregularly.

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