The Democratic Party is concerned with the escalating public debt that the government has accumulated through borrowing from external development partners namely the IMF, World Bank and the government of China.
The government has also borrowed from local banks through treasury bills.
According to BoU, passing the budget proposals for the FY 2021/2022, Uganda’s outstanding debt will be 86.7 Trillion shillings accounting for a 52% of the Country’s GDP.
Important to note is that, the Democratic Party is not against borrowing but rather the utilization of the borrowed funds by those in government.
The borrowed funds should be utilized exclusively for the benefit of Ugandans since the burden of repayment lies on their backs.
Unfortunately, this has not been the case in Uganda, we have witnessed borrowed funds being mismanaged by those in government by engaging in abject corruption, bribery, embezzlement and all such other forms of money swindling that the corrupt deems appropriate to deploy and yet repayment of the loan and interests thereof ends up on the shoulders of Ugandans.
In a debate as to whether Uganda should invest in infrastructural development or human capital, the Democratic Party chooses the latter, investing in human capital and yet the NRM, the former, that is, infrastructure which they have done for the last 35 years but only constructing 25% of the total number of major roads (UNRA Roads) that we have in this Country. Can you imagine that! This actually means that the NRM government actually needs over 140years to construct all the major roads that we have in this country.
That said, let us interrogate why the NRM government chooses to invest in infrastructural development as opposed to human capital.
Two reasons, first, the locally collected revenue cannot service the loans. In fact, as of now 97% of the revenue collected by URA annually is used to repay loans thus leaving government with no funds to run her offices and pay the civil servants.
Therefore, government must borrow disguising that the money is earmarked for infrastructural development and yet the same is to be diverted to meet the costs that could otherwise be serviced by taxes collected by URA.
Secondly, it is done under the pretext of facilitating trade, yes, trade but of what? When we construct roads what do we aim at transporting, yes we do more importing than exporting, we have a struggling industrial sector which by the way is owned by foreigners that employ their own in these industries, the National local content Act has not saved the situation either.
We would argue that given the good soils and environment favoring agriculture, and this, being our main economic activity sustaining at least 80% of our population, we do construct roads to transport agricultural produce, that line of argument can be sustained only if government deliberately invests in commercial farming which is not the case at present.
The Ministry of Agriculture is allocated an infinitesimal amount of 3% of the national budget, subsequently a sector that sustains the biggest of our population only contributes less than 25% of the Country’s GDP. Why won’t we fail to pay our debts?!
That said, as the Democratic Party we wish to advise government to prioritize investing in human capital because service sector contributes 50% of the Country’s GDP.
Unfortunately, the service sector is dominated by foreigners which subsequently affects the Country’s ability to pay back the debts.
Therefore, the Democratic Party recommends that the government of Uganda should seek debt relief offer supported by the IMF and the G20.
LIFT THE LOCKDOWN FULLY
Lastly, The World Health Organization (WHO) published 6 criteria for easing restrictions.
First, there must be evidence that COVID-19 transmission is controlled, this can be answered in affirmative.
Second, there must be in place enough facilities and capacity to identify, isolate, test and treat all cases and trace contacts, this can also be answered in affirmative.
Third, outbreak risks must be minimal in high vulnerability locations like borders, long term care facilities, mental health centers and places where people congregate, we no longer receive cases, not even from the drivers as it used to be.
Fourth, there must be in place measures like hand washing facilities, physical distancing, respiratory etiquette (facial masks) and temperature monitoring, to prevent transmission in workplaces, this can also be answered in affirmative.
Fifth, there must be capacity to manage risk of exporting or importing cases from areas or communities with high risks of transmissions, answered in affirmative.
And sixth, communities have a voice in the decisions that affect them, they should participate, be informed and engaged in the transition to a full lifting of the lockdown, except this but it can be made to be answered in affirmative as well.
Suffice to note is that, as we do grapple with paying debts, we have a big number of people who are not working, mostly those whose businesses operate in the night, also going without mention is the fact that even those that operate day are affected by the curfew.
Subsequently, the government is losing taxes that could be collected to push our Country forward.
Therefore, the Democratic Party being convinced that Uganda satisfies all such requirements by World Health Organization do hereby demand that let the Lockdown be lifted completely, let the people be left to do their businesses, let them fend for their families.
I thank you.
Okoler Opio Lo Amanu