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As economic indicators deteriorate, the Tanzanian government has jailed an opposition leader for questioning the Bank of Tanzania's growth statistics. It's time for the World Bank and the IMF to speak up. If it's illegal to question a government's statistics, why should anyone trust them?
In May, President Magufuli of Tanzania appointed two special committees to investigate the contents of 277 containers stuck at Dar-es-Salaam. The committees' belief that they have uncovered a case of massive misinvoicing (i.e., misrepresentation of the value or quantity of exports) does not seem plausible for five reasons. For starters, the scale of mineral smuggling required for it to be true is implausible.
I'm a little late to this, but recently Chris Blattman set off an interesting debate by criticizing Bill Gates' recent interest in the quality of GDP statistics in Africa. Chris worries that Gates is falling into the trap of "seeing like a state" -- i.e., from the top down, obsessing over national statistics -- rather than a bottom-up entrepreneur who, presumably, couldn't care less about aggregate GDP numbers.