Tanzania, its economy battered by the costs of the war against Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, appealed to nine countries, including the United States, for $375 million in aid to stave off economic collapse.
The confidential appeal was circulated last month to the United States, Britian, West Germany, Canada, Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Japan. So far it has drawn no positive response, although diplomats from the nine countries say their governments are considering the appeal.
Tanzania's prospects for getting the needed money from the nine countries appear dim. The appeal acknowledges that "it may be difficult to approach the same governments which have been making available to Tanzania grants or soft loans for various specific projects." It says Tanzania decided, however, "to sound out our friends to see if they can appreciate the circumstances which have placed us in this position and simply urge them to augment their assistance."
U.S. Ambassador James Spain said, "If they want to talk to us about building a paper mill four years from now, then we can help them. But we simply have no mechanism for paying for a war that's already been fought." Ironically, all nine countries quietly applauded Tanzania's toppling of Amin but, according to one Tanzanian official, "they haven't been willing to give us a shilling to pay the bill."
More than 1,500 Tanzanian soliders headed by a band paraded through Kampala today before climbing onto trucks and heading home as part of a continuing pullout by the troops who drove Amin from power, the Associated Press reported from the Ugandan capital.
[It is unclear how many of the 45,000 Tanzanian troops in Uganda will leave. Some will remain to carry out security duties for the new government of Ugandan President Godfrey Binaisa.]
Tanzania's economic crisis is considered the country's worst in 18 years of independence, and all indications are that, unless massive help comes, things are likely to get worse.
Lack of foreign exchange is already causing severe problems throughout Tanzania with industries, and even hospitals, unable to obtain imported materials needed to keep functioning. For the first time in years there are empty berths in Dar es Salaam harbor as the country has no money to import goods.
War-related transport disruptions and machinery breakdowns blamed on a lack of imported spare parts are causing shortages of essential commodities. Sugar, flour, salt, butter, rice and toilet paper are scarce.
The government last month increased taxes drastically. A 20 percent surcharge has been imposed on all international airline tickets and taxes on beer, soft drinks, cigarettes and other luxury items have been increased. It is rumored that gasoline prices, already $2.75 a gallon, may go up as much as 40 percent.
The appeal asserts that the battle against Amin cost Tanzania more than $500 million and that "the economic effect of the war has been far more pervasive than its direct financial cost. Although difficult to quantify, it has involved the postponement of development projects, diversion of transportation facilities for war purposes and, in short, further weakening of the country's export capability and growth performance."
The direct costs of the war approximately equal Tanzania's annual earnings from exports.
Figures cited in the appeal make it clear that, even without the war, Tanzania still would be in economic trouble.
In 1978, the country's import increased by 40 percent over the previous year, while earnings from exports dropped by 25 percent, larely because of a fall in the world price of coffee. The result was a balance of payments deficit for 1978 of $280 million. CAPTION: Map, no caption, By Dave Cook - The Washington Post