The project directly responds to Tanzania’s Development Vision 2025 and Judiciary Strategic Plan 2015–2020, according to a World Bank statement availed to The Guardian yesterday.
The statement said the funds were approved on Wednesday at the bank’s Washington DC headquarters.
Tanzania’s Judiciary Strategic Plan contributes to national priorities by supporting improvements in service delivery and increasing access to justice.“There are too many Tanzanians for whom access to justice services is a luxury. But it shouldn’t be – it is core to social sustainability and peoples’ well-being,” said Bella Bird, the World Bank country director for Tanzania, Burundi, Somalia and Malawi.
“And with the economy growing as fast as it is, the country’s justice system which is part and parcel of the enabling environment for business and investment needs to support increased demand," he added.
Ranked 64th globally in enforcing contracts in Doing Business 2016, Tanzania is ahead of its regional peers, but lags far behind global benchmarks.
For example, in Tanzania it takes 515 days to resolve a commercial dispute, while in Singapore it takes only 150 days. Disputes go through 38 procedures and costing 14.3 percent of the total claim in Tanzania.
The Bank’s support to the judiciary is expected to help enhance its institutional capacity to demonstrate transformational results. Citizens, including vulnerable groups (e.g. women), rural poor, informal traders, small businesses, large commercial enterprises and banks, will all benefit from the project.
Currently, approximately 47 per cent of the population does not live close to a high court. The design and construction of one-stop-justice centers in select locations will help close the huge rural-urban gap in justice service provision, and will reduce travel and transaction costs for users.
To make the judiciary more accessible, a Justice-on-Wheels program (mobile courts and Alternative Dispute Resolution) will empower vulnerable groups (for example, women, youth, and small businesses).
The program will provide quick and affordable justice services where they live and work, making a special effort to minimize the risk of violence against women.
E-justice services will reduce costs and make services more efficient and transparent. Strengthening inspection and performance systems, along with an e-complaint system for user feedback on law and justice sector operations (for example, via mobile phones) will significantly help the government in its fight against corruption.
Adherence to timelines and cutting case backlogs will increase government revenue, as the current estimated value of claims pending in high courts and tribunals is $464.4 million, of which 19 per cent (about $89 million) pertain to tax matters.
“Judiciary-led reforms are underway and the project will address factors that are impeding the delivery of effective justice services to citizens,” said Waleed Haider Malik, the World Bank’s senior public sector specialist and task team leader for the project.
According to the World Bank, Tanzania has maintained an economic growth rate averaging seven per cent over the past decade.
However, between 2007 and 2011–12, basic needs poverty only declined from 34.4 per cent to 28.2 per cent, and extreme poverty declined from 11.7 per cent to 9.7 per cent.
It said that economic disparities within the population have grown due to fewer employment opportunities, limited access to services, and unsatisfactory service delivery outcomes particularly in rural areas.
Efforts are being made to improve the people’s lives by enhancing the local business and investment environment, increasing transparency and reducing poverty.