Saturday, January 30, 2016

Public Intellectual Dialogue Between Students

Friday, January 29, 2016

Decentralizing the Central Bank of Tanzania (BOT)?


What is the meaning and implication of this move to BOT?


Before the privatization of NBC [National Bank of Commerce], all government entities banked there. That is because it was the government's main bank. But after the privatization of NBC, it became a free-for-all kinda situation.

This move is long overdue. The government doesn't need to bail out any of those private banks should they take risky moves in the name of safeguarding NSSF [National Social Security Fund] or the Dar es Salaam local government's coffers.

In fact, we are poised now to see BoT opening up its branches in every region of the country. That move should strengthen our fiscal and monetary policies. I'm looking forward to seeing the Karagwe municipality using its borrowing capacity from BoT to start offering its community better services. This is the true meaning of a decentralized economy.

It's time to run our economy the right way.


Back in the days, this is what BOT used to do.

I recall Mr. Nkurlu was head of domestic banking which had Currency, Bank Supervision and Government accounts.

It was centralized and easy audit and tracking how every penny flowed and flawed!

I am I support of this as Seppy mentioned! 


The Treasurer Registrar is exercising his role as custodian of government assets. It is important that state-owned institutions which are not in the productive sectors are brought into prudent control in so far as the revenues they collect are concerned. You have government agencies that are by and large collectors of non-tax revenue on behalf of the Exchequer. Yes, they play a service role, as Sumatra, Fair Commission, EWURA etc do. But the revenues they collect sometime go into expenditures that are not necessarily prudent. By opening revenue accounts with the BOT it is possible to instill, I hope, a sense of financial discipline in them. Question is whether these institutions shall earn any interest from BOT? What rates? 

You also have Social Security Funds which are also largely collectors of members' (employee) contributions. My argument has always been that even though the laws establishing these Funds provides that the Government guarantees honouring full contributions of members where the Funds go belly up, it is wrong to deem these institutions as parastatals per excellence. They should not be subjected to the same rigour of control as those institutions wherein the government has injected equity. If these Funds will also be required to bank with the BOT, they may lack the wherewithal to strike funding consortiums that enable them to leverage their funds for big investments and good returns that result in better returns for the members.

One of the injurious 'unintended' consequence of the Treasury Registrar's direction will be the adverse impacts on NMB and other commercial banks such as CRDB and Bank M that enjoy huge deposits from several parastatals. Some of these banks are listed on the DSM Stock Exchange and may experience a downward spiral in the value of their shares following possible declining profit performances. 

The large question for me is whether the decision that has been taken was tested through a number of considerations top most being how the government will benefit from the decision and second whether the consequences of the decision, in terms of its impact on and in the economy, and thus in tax revenues and jobs, was given serious consideration.

These are quick initial ideas and reactions.


Looking at the big picture, TR is right, both in law and in sheer financial management. Inaingia akilini. 

However, going to niceties of good corporate governance, BoT will have to pay interest on call account rates. This is because BoT will be trading on the funds or using them to gauge their capital adequacy: for all intents and purposes the domestic banking directorate of BoT is a commercial bank like any other.

Secondly, there may have to be a GN of some kind. When I headed finance in TANESCO, we were responsible only to the Board. Only the Minister (of Energy) could give directions "of a specific nature or a general nature" to the Board. This is the situation in most of the "old" parstatals that I know of.

Though there was a TR representative on the Board, it's a pity the letter does not cite the explicit section of the law that gives TR these powers. A crafty CAG could hit you with an audit query if, for instance, BoT mismanaged those funds (EPA? ESCROW?).

Ningekuwa bado niko kazini TANESCO nisingetekeleza unless walau nipate Board Resolution, ingawa katika enzi hizi za majipu utahitaji usiwe na majipu ili uwe na msimamo wako kitaaluma kwi.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Integrating or Ghettoising the Gender Question?

Issa Shivji's Clarifying Points about Integrating the Gender Question within the Political Economy of Neoliberalism

I'm glad that this debate is beginning to pick up. I wish there was a greater interrogating of the theoretical framework I proposed in the initial posting. I'm sure it is on the way. There are a couple of preliminary points, though, I would like to clarify.

1(a). Both Chambi's and Deborah's critique is that my intervention is too abstract; that it doesn't take into account empirical facts on the ground. Of course, it is ABSTRACT. By definition, a theorisation is an ABSTRACTION from the mass of empirical data and observations to make sense of it; to understand and explain the reality. A theory, therefore, is neither descriptive nor prescriptive - it is by its very nature argumentative and cognitive. The context in which the "Quick Note" was written was to try and integrate the gender question within the bigger picture of the system of neo-liberal political economy as it currently operates in our countries. The idea was how do we move away from the usual "tokenism" paid to the gender question by add-ons or tag-tos to other questions etc - in other words, to move away from the now too-often a practice of "ghettoising" the gender question. 

(b). The "Quick Note" focussed on the forms of exploitation of wo/man labour as producers of value (surplus value) on the one side and the character of accumulation (primitive accumulation) on the other. The colonial migrant system (manamba) was given to illustrate how capital penetrated the agrarian sector in its quest of primitive accumulation, which was the dominant form of accumulation in the colonial period. (In the interregnum, the immediate post-colonial or the nationalist period, I argued, CA and and PA were in tension as various policies were to install CA, which attempt was defeated) and went on to argue that the dominant character of accumulation under neo-liberalism IS primitive accumulation taking on new forms and producing and reproducing new social groups (including Deborah's precariat) etc. One would have liked to know if that theorisation does or does not capture - in the meaning of explaining and understanding - the existing neo-liberal reality on the ground. Unfortunately, neither Chambi nor Deborah address this central premise of the "Quick Note". 

2. Chambi saw this as a REPLAY of the debate of the late 1990s following MacAuslan's draft law quoting in extenso Dzodzi's narration of the arguments. I don't think it is a REPLAY at all. That was the debate of a different order. In fact, there was no attempt at all to theorise in terms of political economy. One theoretical point made in passing by the Land Commission - contrasting accumulation from below to accumulation from above - was never taken up. The debate was much more at the level of advocacy and lobbying of law-makers etc. To be honest, at the time, we hadn't even realised the extent of the intensity of neo-liberalism - we were still at the level of opposing SAPs on merit (rather demerit!), so to speak. Dzodzi well summarises the arguments/positions in the debate but, understandably, does not touch on the underlying political economy nor politics of it. (As an aside, it would be interesting for researchers to return to that debate and unearth the politics behind it, particularly the role played by the so-called "donor community"). Of course, there is a link between what we are debating now and what we were debating then, but that does not mean it is a replay.

So we continue ... ....!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Deagrarianization Take on Gender Relations

Many thanks for bringing the debate on gender and agrarian relations to the fore. Just a few thoughts on what has been written.

I would agree that Shivji's abstract theoretical analysis fits the colonial period when rural men migrated to plantations and mines or produced cash crops in situ and rural women were ordained to stay at the homestead producing subsistence crops, giving birth and raising children. But that neat split in the gender division of labour is no longer prevalent. During the 1950s-1970s men's migration to plantations and mines largely faded away. From the 1980s, when the terms of trade for peasant agriculture plummeted in the wake of the global oil crisis, men started losing their role as agricultural export crop producers. They, as well as women and youth, entered the 'scramble in Africa', searching for viable forms of income-earning. For youth, urban migration became ever more prevalent. This came out in the survey work I've done with colleagues in Tanzania and indeed a similar pattern was found to prevail in the other African countries that we researched [Bryceson and Jamal (1997) Farewell to Farms; Bryceson, Kay and Mooij (2000) Disappearing Peasantries?; Bryceson and Bank (2001) Livelihoods, Linkages and Policy Paradoxes; Bryceson (2010) How Africa Works].

I would argue these transformative processes largely undermined the existence of the Tanzanian peasantry (as per my article that you circulated). What's left is an ageing countryside and an inchoate 'precariat' (male and female) who diversify their work activities according to the constraints and opportunities that they encounter. Rural men's and women's relationship to capital is largely the same - they exist, in the Marxist sense, as a 'reserve army of labour' for capital - except that these days labour is in super-abundance. It's long passed the time when the colonial assumption of an acute labour shortage held and a so-called backward sloping supply curve was believed to exist. As for what happens within the home, households are far less coherent socially and materially. Unlike peasant households where there was a clear complementary division of labour amongst family members to generate subsistence and commodified household production, households are now far more fluid in composition. Individual members often earn on their own account, rather than pool their income into a household purse. The notion of a male breadwinner lingers on primarily in some men's imagination. Women, however, remain the central 'reproducers' not only in terms of having babies, but caring for children and doing daily domestic labour. My view is that yes this is exploitation of women by men, but it's also usually a choice on the part of the women themselves and in effect it is their labour of love. They would not be able to tolerate the low standards of housework and childcare that most men haphazardly provide, if they are enlightened enough to try to tackle housework. Sorry if I sound like a female chauvinist!

Above all, I very much agree with you that empirical research is vital to knowing and understanding what's going on. With a foundational analytical grounding, the theory can follow from there. So much has happened over the last half century. It must be documented, published and widely disseminated. Tanzania is such a complex country and the more case studies and broader surveys that are done the better. But if the data stays in report form rather than more readable publications and other accessible forms of analytical communication, we will miss what is happening and the nature of on-going change will elude us.

Does Tanzania Need Fossil Fuel?

Michaela Collord's Preliminary Take on Bjørn Lomborg's Why Africa Needs Fossil Fuels

I can't pretend to be any expert in the energy sector (and I'm wary of personifying what Lomberg refers to as the naive western environmental activist), but I have a few major concerns with the piece. 

Now to dispense with the personal side briefly, Lomberg is a highly controversial character in climate science given his own lack of academic credentials and frequent dissimulation of the facts, both of which have attracted widespread criticism (see for example here). 

But attacking Lomberg does not deal with what is at base an appealing argument: Per capita electricity supply across Africa is extremely low; fossil fuels are a cheap and efficient way to generate electricity, unrivaled by renewables; therefore African states should invest more in fossil fuel-powered electricity generation. 
We can all agree on the first part of this argument. The problem comes with the second. 

First, Lomberg (seemingly willfully) misrepresents the energy generation potential of renewables (e.g. by characterizing solar panels as good for recharging a phone battery but nothing bigger). I don't have all the references at my fingertips now (I can come back with that later), but there is ample evidence from industrialized countries that investments in renewables can provide a viable alternative to fossil fuels. Germany and Denmark, for instance, have been able to generate the majority of their electricity from renewables at times when the weather conditions are favourable while in October last year wind was deemed the cheapest source of energy in the UK. 

Improvements in renewables technology have far outpaced expectations, bringing down the cost while improving efficiency. Yes, perhaps there can be backup electricity generation using fossil fuels, but renewables can do the job too. Regarding viability, it is also interesting to look at how China, which has invested hugely in the manufacture of solar panels in recent years, is now cutting deals with a number of different African governments (cf. Uganda) to set up large solar farms. 

Now leaving aside the viability of renewables vis-à-vis fossil fuels, of course Lomberg does not consider the development trade off in terms of increased air pollution and climate change. On air pollution, just look at how India and China have both been scrambling in recent years to introduce emergency measures to handle the high levels of smog that now routinely engulf their largest cities. The health implications in both countries (which if you prefer, we can also measure as a financial burden) have been enormous. 

Regarding climate change, of course there's the galling reality that industrialized, western countries are primarily responsible while developing countries now have to participate in the clean-up, but it's also true that climate change is a huge challenge for everyone (not least Tanzania, where among other things, projected sea level rise will pose a serious threat to Dar es Salaam). With developing countries now counting for over 60% of global CO2 emissions (and that figure is rising), we can't look to developed countries alone to act. As a result, there is an added incentive to invest in renewables now rather than lock in future CO2 emissions by taking the misleadingly easy route of fossil fuel-based electricity generation. It's a question of penny-wise pound-foolish. 

One last point in regard to Tanzania: If there is one thing the IPTL saga has taught us, it is that fossil fuels are not necessarily the quick fix they at first appear. There is some evidence that managing renewable energy generation offers fewer opportunities for rent seeking (which is perhaps another reason why it is less appealing to political elites - at least that is an argument that I have seen applied to the UK in recent years).





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