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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Tanzanian authorities dismissing reports of economic slowdown

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian authorities on Friday dismissed reports by opposition leaders that the east African country’s economic growth was slowing down and painted a strong picture of the economy as 2017 ends.

Philip Mpango, the Minister for Finance and Planning, said despite criticism from some opposition leaders on the government’s handling of the economy over the past two years, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) was still on track, growing by an estimated 7 percent this year.

"A projected 7-percent GDP growth in 2017 would keep Tanzania firmly in the list of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies," he told a news conference in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

Mpango said the government expected a medium-term economic growth of around 7.4 percent in 2018 and beyond on the back of massive public infrastructure investments, including the ongoing construction of the standard gauge railway (SGR) line and the Uganda-Tanzania crude oil pipeline.

However, Mpango admitted that some Tanzanians were yet to see the benefits of this rapid economic growth, because the GDP expansion was mainly being driven by sectors that were not labor intensive.

He said a high GDP growth rate would nonetheless have long-term benefits on the lives of Tanzanians by reducing poverty and stimulating national development.

"Economic growth can be compared to the movement of a vehicle.

"When the vehicle moves at a fast speed, it will reach its destination quickly," he said when giving an overview of the performance of the country’s economy in 2017 and outlook for next year.

He added: "But when the car is moving slowly, it does not mean that it is not going forward, but rather it will take longer-than-expected for it to reach its desired destination."

Mpango said the agriculture sector, which is the backbone of the country’s economy, grew by only 2.1 percent in 2016 due to low productivity from rain-fed agriculture, thus limiting the trickle-down effect of the fast GDP growth.

He said the fastest-growing sectors in the economy were those employing a relatively fewer number of people, such as construction (13 percent), information and communication (13 percent), transport and storage (11.8 percent), mining and quarrying (11.5 percent) and banking and insurance services (10.7 percent).

           

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