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Legal regulation of prices in Tanzania : an examination of the Regulation of Prices Act 1973 as a tool of social change and development

By Angelo Mtitu Mapunda


Drawing mainly from the Tazanian experience this study\ud attempts to review the principal issues in the legal regulation of\ud prices, by identifying both the general and specific importance\ud of law in this respect. The position I shall present is that\ud legal control is both necessary and desirable for the welfare\ud and social development of the people. The key issue is whether\ud the market-place will perform its function satisfactory: Will\ud it produce socially desirable results? If it will not, why will\ud it not? And will legal regulation help to do the job a little\ud better?\ud In an attempt to answer some of these questions,\ud first of all, outline the basic issues raised by the study in\ud the first Chapter. Then I examine the general case for price\ud controls - the theory about the controls, the motives and reasons\ud for their imposition and the manner in which they are effected\ud in different economic systems. This is done in Chapter Two. Relying\ud most on the available literature on the regulatory process, this\ud Chapter also looks at the relationship between law and economic\ud regulation and concludes that the effectiveness of law depends\ud on the existence of a conducive socio-economic environment. In\ud Chapter Three I describe the past record of price control laws\ud in Tanzania. I conclude that despite the failure in the past,\ud the controls still constitute an important policy instrument\ud in the transition to socialism. In Chapters Four and Five I describe\ud the manner in which the current regulations are implemented and\ud the problems encountered. I conclude that the operational performance\ud of the controls is constrained by internal and external influences on the economic and political life of the country. In the concluding\ud Chapter I assess the impact of the controls: Do the controls\ud work? Do people buy goods at the controlled prices? Why today\ud the controls are almost popularly accepted as worthwhile? I conclude\ud that while there may be no measurable economic gains derived\ud by consumers, the controls have a stabilising effect on the social\ud and political front. In the final section I argue that the\ud future success of the legislation depends on creating a correspondence\ud between the economic structures and the control system. What\ud makes the controls ineffective is not so much defects in the\ud law but the contradictions between the orientation of and functioning\ud of the economic system and the ideological commitment

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