Tanzanian NGOs criticise PRSP

12 December 2000

The Government of Tanzania’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) was endorsed by the IMF and WB Boards in early December despite claims from Tanzanian NGOs that the consultative process was inadequate. “Tanzania’s program has strong country ownership and the poverty assessment has been built on a solid consultative process with civil society and other development partners” commented Shigemitsu Sugisaki, Deputy IMF Managing Director.

But according to a statement by the Tanzania Gender Networking Project “CSOs [civil society organizations] were involved in a superficial and half-hearted manner”, and “were involved only at late stages of the process and did not truly participate in the process of preparing the poverty strategy paper for the United Republic of Tanzania”. Key macroeconomic and structural adjustment policies were negotiated in secret, parallel to the PRSP consultations and without civil society’s involvement.

The consultations were limited and rushed, preventing proper dialogue, discussion, and debate. And whilst NGOs were invited to comment on the government’s strategy, NGO involvement ended there. There was no participation in the final drafting of the paper.

“On the whole, the final PRSP document does not demonstrate any gender perspectives and civil society inputs in a meaningful way. Many of the civil society actors feel cheated by both the government and the donors, especially the World Bank, who have been emphasizing the importance of the civil society participation in the PRSP preparations and approval processes” , says the statement. It argues that the Bank and Fund are not serious enough about supporting participation in policy making processes.

In particular, the groups criticized the PRSP for maintaining user-fees on education and health services, especially since health and education services had been an issue during the general elections in October. They have called for:

  • further analysis of the government’s proposals on user fees on education and health with more input from civil society;
  • the PRSP process to include more data and case studies from the public;
  • the abolition of user fees for health, education and water sectors, and for the World Bank to stop making conditions on the same;
  • the World Bank to take a more holistic and comprehensive analytical approach to assessing financial constraints and alternative financing arrangements for the social sectors;
  • the government to devise more innovative strategies to obtain revenue, such as taxing and encouraging donations from the rich and companies;
  • more transparent monitoring of who has access to services and what services they are receiving savings on cancelled day repayments to be dedicated to education and health sectors, while ensuring that spending from other sources remains the same or is increased.

The Tanzanian case bolsters concerns that a minimal level of participation seems enough to satisfy the World Bank and IMF‘s Boards, and the IMF and Bank have failed to develop clear guidelines to assist Board members to assess the quality of the participatory process.

Globalization Challenge Initiative has produced a Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) Alert on Tanzania