The Minster for Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Hon. Matia Kasaija says that security of persons and property, consistent economic stability, duty free access to the East African Community for Ugandan exporters has improved the economic growth of Uganda.Kasaija said this while presenting the 2018/2019 National Budget at a sitting of Parliament held at the Kampala Serena Conference Centre, Thursday, 14 May 2018.
He said that the improved standards of living can be attributed to growth of average per capita income of Ugandans in the last eight years from shs1.3 million to shs2.6 million in the financial year 2017/18 in spite of a rising population.
“The number of Ugandan employees in the formal sector grew at an average annual growth rate of 6 per cent between 2010 and 2013,” said Kasaija.
The minister noted improved access to education, health facilities and water sources as well as increased access to the electricity grid especially in rural areas where access to solar power was a growing trend at 18 per cent.
He however highlighted challenges including failure by majority of Ugandans to commercialize agriculture, where 68.9 per cent of Ugandan households remained engaged in subsistence agriculture.
“Agricultural sector growth has been low at an average rate of less than 2 per cent over the last 25 years, compared to population growth of three per cent annually,” the minister said.
Kasaija cited high costs of electricity and transport, competition from cheaper goods from Asia, inadequate skilled labor, limited application of technologies in production processes and limited long-term financing to boost SMEs as factors that affected financial growth in the 2017/18 financial year.
He said Uganda’s medium term economic outlook was positive, with economic activity projected to expand by at least six per cent in 2018/19, attributed to a fiscal policy supporting infrastructure investment and structural reforms to enhance the budget process.
The projected resource envelope for 2018/19 puts domestic revenue at shs16.3 trillion, domestic borrowing at shs1.7trillion, budget support at shs289 billion and external financing for projects at shs7.7 trillion. The Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga appreciated the inclusion of the development and expansion of Namugongo Martyrs shrine in the tourism sector budget allocation, and called for support in development of the Janani Luwum memorial site in Mucwiny among others.
“However, your silence on the grant for elderly persons(SAGE)and nodding disease is suspicious specifically since we worked on this budget together and made specific provisions. We shall need answers,” Kadaga added.
The total budget estimate for the fiscal year 2018/2019 is shs32.7 trillion.