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Post by sol_drethedon on Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:55 pm



On 28th June 2012 at Hotel Africana, the African Centre for Trade and Development ( ACTADE) organized a dialogue with civil society, members of parliament, government officials, media and academia. The theme above was the subject of discussion.
Focusing on trade and Uganda’s budget, the following guidelines served as the parameters for the dialogue:


1. In Uganda, trade is viewed as an important stimulus to economic growth. Uganda’s trade policy objectives have been pursued through trade liberalization, increased development of the private sector, privatization and participation in regional agreements, particularly the East African Community. (EAC)

2. The National Budget being the most important economic and political instrument of government in that it should reflect the country’s socio-economic policy priorities, It translates policy and political commitments into fiscal policies: Taxation and expenditure.

3. The government budget decisions affect everyday lives and future of its citizens. It influences where we work, what transport we use, what health care is available to use (health sector) and what education our children have.(Education sector)

4. Government budget decisions will affect our income standards, the citizens personal safety and lastly the country’s economic growth.

5. Trade and national budget are central to the development process.

In view of these parameters, different speakers chief among who was Hon. Henry Banyenzaki, Minister of State for Economic Monitoring in the Office of the President; other panelists were: Emmanuel Mutahunga, Ministry of Trade Tourism and Industry (MTTI), Kenneth Mugambe, Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development, Paul Busharizi a business editor with The New Vision, Patrick Tumwebaze, Executive Director of Uganda Debt Network (UDN). The moderator of the dialogue was Baguma Richard, United Nations Association of Uganda. All this was successfully coordinated by ACTADE executive director Dr. Bonny Kyaligonza.

Hon. Henry Banyenzaki speaks:

“ You often find students reading books to pass exams, sometimes up to midnight and beyond, and what they are reading is who discovered lake Victoria? And the answer is John Speke! But the original inhabitants(our fore-fathers) called it Nnalubaale; why don’t we study who named it Nnalubaale?
Where did that civilization go? We were hoodwinked and we accepted. Hoodwinking has gone on for long. Efforts have been made in the budget to address this in ‘Bonna basome’ but antagonists want to call it ‘Bonna bakone’. We should call it ‘Bonna basome, Basoma ki?’ Investing into skills; outcome based skills e.g. Kigumba Oil University. That is where the money is. We need more engineers, there are job opportunities.

For example Kyambogo University used to train engineers then we added on practically non-productive courses like sociology, psychology, development studies etc. We need to create a critical mass to extract the best output in the potential of our graduates. We need to partner with civil societies and start talking the same language. The 2012 budget is addressing that issue. We need to stop importing goods that would otherwise be locally manufactured. We import almost everything from China. How is the education of China different from ours? In China, you study how to manufacture not some incoherent psycho-bubble in the name of psychology. If only one could obtain that critical mass from our graduates, our potential as a manufacturing nation would sky-rocket and increase our share in the regional and international markets.

We need to industrialize. Money is being put in the energy sector and that’s the reason why government is talking about Bujagali, Karuma, connecting the rural areas to the national grid. For example government has proposed a sugar cane factory in Amuru district but surprisingly these efforts are being resisted. We need to teach our people. They resist industrialization with the unfounded allegations that government wants to grab their land. This kind of attitude is the reason our people have remained poor. We need to industrialize and get jobs, build infrastructure(roads) and boost trade and wealth creation. Does this budget address the issue of industrialization; for example industrial parks?.... I leave it to you.

When government starts wealth generation/ creation projects like loans for the unemployed youths, they take it as a ‘kasiimo’ from the NRM government and they don’t want to pay back. It is historical; people get money from the banks and they don’t want to pay back. Lending to the private sector has become risky so banks look for the alternative. Banks prefer treasury bills because treasury bills are risk free. Banks offer salary loans. For example if a member of parliament earns 20milion Uganda shillings, in a year (20x12) that is 240milion Uganda shillings. After 5years that is (240x5) 1.2bilion Uganda shillings. If a Member of Parliament walks into a bank say, Bank of Africa, Stanbic bank etc... He will raise his 1bilion within a month. Banks are willing to give him the money because his job is the security. They will get the money directly from the consolidated fund so there is no risk and because of that the interest rate is much lower on a member of parliament than to a lay man because there is no trustworthiness. The interest rate for the lay man is high because some must pay for the money that is going to be stolen.

Look at all these programs that have been started by the government; Entandikwa, SACCO’s, money to help the youth and the women is in shambles because people don’t want to pay back. So does this budget address this issue? Yes it does. So generally, on the issue of wealth creation, the government is doing its part. Alternative financing through investment in agriculture and agro-businesses. There is money in the commercial banks at lower interest rates. And in order to achieve wealth creation, it is important that we commercialize agriculture before even industrialization. That is why government has deliberately started a zoning program; saying, Kigezi you are good for tea, grow tea, Bugisu you are good for Arabic coffee, grow Arabic coffee. But even as government tries to play its role, the population must be receptive and pick up on the strategies decided on by government.

In promoting trade, I have talked about energy, infrastructure and there is one other important point; our commercial laws. Do they give an enabling environment for trade? In this budget, there deliberate efforts to promote public private partnerships, alternative financing, meaning that government is ruling out the conventional means of borrowing from the world bank and other foreign financial institutions. Alternative financing also intends to turn capacity into profit locally other than repatriating it. So, P.P.P, conducive commercial laws, one stop centers; we must cut short the bureaucratic red tape. The issue of the East African federation should be a reality.

In considering trade, we must look at the markets the entire East Africa can provide. These are the real issues. I pledge to support ACTADE and bridge the gap. If we are talking about collaboration, it must be real and meaningful so that the government does not see civil society as enemies that have come to grab power but as partners. Many of you were my colleagues at the university and together, we have come of age; to take powers of responsibility. I will bridge the gap and maintain this dialogue. Remember the president announced the Presidential Economic Commission. This is a good entry point for the civil society. The president wants to block the bureaucracy that prevents those developmental views coming from brilliant minds like ACTADE”

Other speakers:
The Women and Culture Organization emphasized the need to save. Saying that even when assets have been accumulated, there is a tendency to sell them off. We need to start a serious saving culture.

A member of the Private Sector Foundation had this to say, “the government is willing to invest in infrastructure but what we lack is absorptive capacity by the government especially Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA). Some time back UNRA said they were stuck with money from the previous budgets and yet UNRA has been issued with trillions each financial year but there is no improvement in the road network. How sure are we that in the 2012/13 budget, the 1.6trilionshillings issued to them is going to be effective?”

Another panelist had this to say, “The Hon. Minister talked about leakages and the habit of citizens not wanting to pay back government loans. Why should citizens pay back yet the very leaders they look up to are corrupt. Corruption starts from the head. Even as the bible states: it starts from the head of Abraham... we see corruption in the news, in court, it is basically entrenched.”

The Hon. Minister responded thus,” We need to educate the masses and unlock their mindsets, especially the economically active citizens; vocationalization of education. About money for the youth, there are standard guidelines for the youth fund. If you are talking about a policy, okay this was experimental. This budget has provided for the youth fund and we are going to look at the Graduates Venture Capital”

The last speaker had this to say, “What is wealth creation? One of the signs of wealth creation is high income. Assets are income generative if they are growing. You can have a lot of income but no wealth. Similarly, countries can have lots of income but are not wealthy. For some countries income is the revenue. Our economy has been growing since 1986. From a revenue of 50bilion shillings in 1986 to 1000billion shillings in 2012. But we know that infrastructure is an asset. The budget this year for the ministry of works and transport has been doubled. We would like to examine whether the money is being spent on capacity building or on road construction.

The fact that money is being spent on building infrastructure; roads, dams (energy) should be examined. People in the hinterland were supposed to be matooke growers. No roads meant that their matooke was rotting. But when the roads were upgraded, now these hitherto poor villagers have iron sheets on their houses and have cemented the floors of their houses. It might sound meager but there was a time when people didn’t have cemented floors and iron sheet roofing. The budget on health and education is huge. 80% of the population derive their livelihood from the land; to allocate 4% to agriculture is a bit funny, but there huge demands on infrastructure. The president highlighted in his state of the nation address that he needs 14trilion Uganda shillings to construct 19 major roads that would link farmer’s produce to the consumer.”

That was the end of the dialogue.

We shall internalize this and write an executive summary/ overview on the ACTADE dialogue.

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Post by OLIVER888 on Sun Nov 30, 2014 11:54 pm



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