President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has said that Uganda’s economic growth is unstoppable and called upon citizens to listen to his message of adding value to all the country’s raw materials.

In his virtual 2023/2024 Budget Speech to Parliament today, President Museveni noted that by the end of the coming Financial Year, Uganda’s economy will have grown 37 times in size compared to that of 1986 when the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government came into power.

“As I told you in the state of the nation address, our economy will be US Dollars 55.2 billion by the end of the coming Financial Year,” H.E Museveni told MPs and other government officials during the budget reading ceremony held at Kololo Independence Grounds.

He attributed the economic growth to the success registered on the three (3) tasks; minimum economic recovery “what we set out to do in 1987,” expansion of the sectors that had recovered and diversification from the original narrow spectrum of the economy of the 3 C’s (cotton, coffee and copper) and the 3 T’s (Tobacco, Tourism and Tea).

The President said Uganda now is able to earn money from other items such as Fish, maize, milk, gold in addition to the 4th task of the knowledge economy based on science and high technology.

He however said Uganda’s economy remains raw materials-based, calling for the need to add value to all raw materials such as coffee, cotton, timber, cocoa, fish products, gold, iron ore, copper, vermiculite, phosphates, petrochemicals, maize, bananas, etc., and stopping to export them unprocessed.

“By doing this, our economy will jump to USD 550 billion instead of the mere USD 55.2 billion. Therefore, no games, no delays, no corruption, no relenting on PDM and Emyooga, Uganda is unstoppable,” Museveni emphasized, adding that Uganda has been importing leather (hides and skins) from China and India until recently when he set up a leather processing factory in Kawumu.”

The President urged the nation to make use of the over 80 percent literate population, the abundant electricity, the good roads, the railway system that is being repaired or built and the cheap money in the Uganda Development Bank (UDB) to focus all efforts on adding value to all the country’s products.

About import substitution and export promotion, President Museveni called upon Ugandans to make use of the Shs52 trillion budget to stop importation of goods that can be made locally in Uganda.

He noted that the import substitution value of the small industries in Uganda stands at USD 3.6 billion and brings into the country USD 1.6 billion.

“Me I didn’t know that the little work we were doing was something serious. We’re saving you USD 3.6 billion in import substitution and earning you USD 1.6 billion in industrial products,” H.E Museveni noted.

President Museveni also urged the government to borrow less with discipline or not to borrow at all in order to reduce the debt burden given that Shs17 trillion out of the Shs52 trillion budget for the next financial year is meant to pay debts much of it borrowed for no good purpose. He also called upon the Uganda Revenue Authority to step up efforts in collecting more taxes.

President Museveni also thanked Ugandans who have been praying and wishing him quick recovery since last week when he tested Positive for Covid-19. The President is currently in isolation at Nakasero State Lodge.

“I want to thank all Ugandans who have been praying for me; I have been watching you praying for me at the National Chairman’s Office, Milly Babalanda (Presidency Minister) and Hadija Uzeiye Muzukkulu, thank you for praying, signing on the board here and all the others who have been wishing me good luck. I appreciate it. It’s good to know that I’m not as bad as some people try to make me; there are Ugandans who appreciate,” he said.

The Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Hon. Matia Kasaija said that the 2023/2024 Budget will support Uganda’s transformation from a raw materials-based economy to a manufacturing and knowledge-based economy since it promotes value addition, business growth, and job creation for the youth, women and all Ugandans.

“The NRM Government has laid a strong foundation to accelerate the socio-economic transformation for all Ugandans. The Budget for next Financial Year 2023/2024, therefore, has been prepared to advance this strategic mission,” Hon. Kasaija said while presenting to Parliament on behalf of His Excellency the President estimates of revenue and expenditure for the Financial Year 2023/2024.

Running under the theme: “Full Monetization of Uganda’s Economy through Commercial Agriculture, Industrialization, Expanding and Broadening Services, Digital Transformation and Market Access”, next Financial Year’s budget (Shs52.7 Trillion) was approved by Parliament on 18th May, 2023.

Hon. Kasaija assured that Uganda’s economy has remained resilient and is on a steady recovery path. He noted that the economy this year is projected to have grown by 5.5% compared to 4.6% last year.

“This year’s performance compares favorably with the average growth rate for Sub-Saharan Africa estimated at 3.6% for calendar year 2023. The size of the economy is estimated at Shs. 184.3 trillion, compared to Shs. 162.9 trillion last year. This is equivalent to US$ 49.4 billion compared to US$ 45.6 billion last year,” the Minister said.

“This expansion is on account of good performance of the Services sector which grew at 6.2%, compared to 4.1% in the previous year. Agriculture has also performed strongly, growing by 5.0%, despite the dry spell in the first quarter of the financial year. In particular, food crops, livestock and fishing performed well. Industry grew at 3.9%, driven largely by manufacturing and construction activities, especially in the oil and gas industry.”

Hon. Kasaija also divulged that inflation is reducing steadily on account of well-coordinated fiscal and monetary policy.

“Inflation has significantly decreased since October 2022 when it peaked at 10.7%. Last month, the pace at which prices were rising slowed down to 6.2%. Prices of key items such as soap, sugar, fuel at pumps, among others, have significantly reduced.”

By April 2023, the Minister explained that Uganda’s exports of merchandise goods amounted to US$ 4.2 billion compared to US$ 3.1 billion over the same period last financial year.

According to Hon. Kasaija, this represents a 35.5% increase, mainly driven by an increase in exports of gold, coffee, fish, sugar, beans, maize and light manufactured products to regional markets.

He also disclosed that the government targets to create over 2.5 million jobs for Ugandans in the next five years. He said this will be achieved by effectively implementing the Parish Development Model (PDM), industrialization, wealth creation and full monetization of the economy.

“PDM will boost household incomes as well as the development of micro-enterprises. Since the launch of the PDM in February 2022, a total of Shs. 590.2 billion has been disbursed to all the 10,459 parishes nationwide, translating into Shs. 50 million per parish. The balance will be disbursed by end of this month. Next financial year, the PDM has been allocated 1.1 trillion,” he said.

“The Emyooga initiative will further boost household incomes and micro enterprises at parish and sub-county levels by directly funding parish and sub-county level enterprise groups.”

On the other hand, Hon Kasaija said next year, Mulago Super Specialized Hospital and the new state-of-the-art Intensive Care Unit at the Uganda Cancer Institute will be fully operationalized. He said they will provide specialized care to all Ugandans and reduce medical referrals abroad.

He also revealed that the government will in the next few weeks resolve the plight of medical interns and doctors designated as senior house officers, in view of their important role in supporting the healthcare system.

“In the meantime, I have provided Shs. 22.6 billion to clear outstanding arrears for medical interns and senior house officers for the financial year ending June 2023.”

While making her remarks, the speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Anita Annet Among started with informing the house that H.E the President is doing well in isolation and asked Ugandans to continue praying for his quick recovery. 

“I assure you of our unwavering support, love and prayers for a faster healing as you continue to lead and guide our country. As Parliament, we convey our wishes for the President’s speedy recovery. As the Bible says in Isaiah 53:5, “…. And by His stripes, we are healed…,” Rt. Hon. Among said.

She however expressed dismay over negative messages from sections of insensitive Ugandans who have made it a habit to spread false and alarming information intended to create panic and uncertainty in the country about the President’s health.

“I urge all Citizens of goodwill to spread love and continue praying for our country and leaders. As a God-fearing Nation, we commit our President to the Almighty God for his complete healing. Our president is very okay and is with us virtually,” Speaker Among said.

The function was also attended by the Vice President Major (Rtd) Jessica Alupo Rose Epel, His lordship the Chief Justice and his Deputy, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa, the National Vice chairperson of NRM Al-Hajji Moses Kigongo and NRM CEC members, the Prime Minister and Leader of Government business Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament Hon. Mathias Mpuuga, several cabinet Ministers, among other government officials.