Finance Minister Matia Kasaijja presented the 2017/18 National Budget on my behalf this afternoon.
I have been reading newspapers giving a pessimistic view of the economy. As the Bible says, they have eyes but they don’t see. They have ears but don’t hear.
I am optimistic because for the first time, we have got the base which we did not have before. The base is reflected in the following ways;
The first element is peace. No one has capacity to disturb it. Lawlessness which had come up will be addressed.
Second is electricity. In 1986, we had only 60MW, now we have more than 2,000MW when all projects are finished. The only little problem is high cost of Bujagali. We shall refinance Bujagali for cost to come down especially for manufacturers.
Third is the many new roads. I hosted an investor from the UK recently. He travelled upcountry and told me he has not seen such good roads in Africa. He was asleep all the way.
We are preparing to build the Standard Gauge Railway. We shall also repair the old line upto Gulu and Pakwach. That railway will carry equipment to L. Albert and oil fields. Rail-water transport will do a lot to lower cost of transport.
Cost of money. We are working towards lowering interest rates for manufacturers and farmers. Borrowing for farmers and manufacturers will go down.
Through Operation Wealth Creation we are attacking ‘Pur mecham pekene’ (agriculture for only eating).
People must move from subsistence farming to food security and food for money. For commercial farmers, there’s money to borrow and expand.
We have a much more educated population. Literacy rate is 75%. These educated people, though most studied courses without readily available jobs, can easily join the entrepreneurial class. They are easy to train.
We must convert these young people from joblessness to employed and with property. The NRM has created a good base for this.
We have abundant raw materials. Leather is taken away in raw form and brought back to Uganda as shoes which we buy expensively.
We are misusing our purchasing power buying other people’s products. The military uniform I am putting on is Ugandan made. Only the beret is foreign.
Instead of our girls going abroad to work as housegirls, we should support them with skills and capital to become job creators.
I supported a group in Wobulenzi doing maize milling. Why export our grain unprocessed when our children can do it here? Soon I will get them to manufacture transformers. That is why Kilembe Mines must have serious investors.
With tourism, we are going to revive our airlines. There would be more tourists if we had direct flights.
We are also continuing to attract Foreign Direct Investments and work with the over 700 members of Uganda Manufacturers Authority to support manufacturing.
In short, I am very optimistic about this economy. We had two problems; our businessmen who were exporting to South Sudan and Congo affected by the conflicts and then the drought. But we are resolving all these