President Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert’s Remarks at the launch of our parliamentary front’s alternative budget proposals for the next financial year
Yesterday, we joined the opposition leadership in Parliament as they presented the country with alternative budget priorities for the fiscal year 2023-2024. This is based on the theme “Rethinking Uganda’s Economy: A Human Rights Approach to Resource Allocation.”
On numerous occasions, our critics have claimed that we do not offer any policy alternatives for Uganda’s future. Our manifesto clearly presents realistic and achievable policies, but only if the country’s resources are allocated correctly.
We thank the leadership of Rt. Hon. Mathias Mpuuga Nsamba and his team for this well-researched policy document that prioritizes improving the plight of all Ugandans over benefiting a few individuals in power.
Below are the remarks of our President at the event yesterday
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen;
I am honored to address you today as our parliamentary front launches its Alternative Budget Proposals for the Financial Year 2023/24.
Many times, regime apologists tend to claim that we do not present any alternative views for Uganda’s future.
But you all know that our 2021 Manifesto gave clear and achievable policy alternatives, and we have elaborated these in detail on several occasions.
The last time I was here at Parliament, our team was presenting its legislative agenda and today we are here to highlight more policy alternatives. I want to thank the Right Hon. Leader of the Opposition and his team for a job well done.
As you have heard, the alternative budget proposals are rooted in the principles of universal human rights and equality.
Human rights are not a luxury, it is a fundamental aspect of human dignity that should be respected and protected in all aspects of life, including economic policy.
We believe that every Ugandan deserves the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their background or circumstances. We believe that it is possible to build a country that works for everyone, not just a select few.
This human rights approach is centered on the idea that economic policies should prioritize the rights and well-being of all people, especially the vulnerable. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Uganda.
The Ugandan economy is characterized by corruption, inequality and a lack of opportunity for the majority of our people.
Wealth and power are concentrated in the hands of a small group.
That is why we need an alternative budget that truly represents and prioritizes the needs and aspirations of all Ugandans; a budget that prioritizes the needs of all the people, not just the elite few. A budget that can change the status quo.
The alternative budget is not just a collection of numbers and figures. It is a reflection of the values that we hold so dear
Our national budget must prioritize investments in sectors that will create jobs, improve people’s livelihoods, and enhance economic growth.
Special attention should be given to health, education and social protection programs that will benefit the ordinary Ugandans.
We must invest in healthcare to ensure that every Ugandan has access to quality and affordable healthcare services, for the purpose of increasing their productivity. Our health workers and teachers must be paid better.
We must focus on creating an environment that is conducive to business growth and job creation. This requires deliberate investments in infrastructure, including roads, railways, and the energy sector.
We must reduce the burden of taxes and regulations on small and medium-sized businesses. Otherwise, no one should expect a peaceful country, where young people are unemployed and hopeless.
We must ensure that everyone has access to the resources they need to succeed. This means investing in social protection programs, such as universal healthcare and social security.
Last year around June, this Parliament passed the National Health Insurance Scheme Bill. But up to now, the Bill has not yet become law.
It’s a shame that 61 years after independence, we still rely on development partners to meet 41% of our health expenditures! The government caters for only 16% and leaves the bigger burden to the ordinary citizen!
We do not have a national health insurance scheme in place. The available health insurance plans are almost all private schemes. And yet even then, they cover less than 2% of the population!
I believe you have been following the scandal at NSSF. Over 14 trillion shillings of private employees’ savings is now at risk of being stolen because of greed.
The situation is even worse at the Police officers’ SACCO (Exodus) and the military officers’ SACCO (Wazalendo). The low-ranking officers find it almost impossible to access the ‘savings’ which are actually forcefully deducted from their salary.
Trillions are allocated to the security sector but when you look at the living conditions of the men and women in uniform, it is sad!
No wonder, many soldiers and police officers are angry and frustrated and they’re venting it on the innocent citizens.
Recently, the media reported how some police officers have actually gone to Court over salary cuts.
I want to say it again, that our government will ensure that those who keep our nation safe earn better, with the lowest-paid officer earning at least UGX 1 million. In turn, they will treat their fellow citizens with dignity.
It’s unfortunate that the regime continues to marginalize and isolate significant sections of the population. An old saying used to be, “we shall not wait for Karamoja to develop”.
But now a few elites in the regime, including the Speaker of this very Parliament, are saying “we shall not allow Karamoja to develop”.
Anyone who has been to Karenga, Kotido, Abim and other poverty-ravaged areas of Karamoja cannot imagine, that the wealthy thugs in government, who stole their iron sheets are still in office today.
Ladies and gentlemen, implementing these proposals requires a change in the allocation of resources. So, we must cut spending in areas that do not contribute to the well-being of our people.
We should not be wasting money on buying teargas and killing machines to terrorize our people.
It is not logical that police and the military were allocated UGX 9 trillion in the current budget, yet the agricultural sector which employs over 70% of Uganda’s working population was given only 1.4 trillion!
We must restore hope for the thousands of young Ugandans who line up at Entebbe Airport every day in search of a better life outside Uganda, but end up suffering untold indignity while there.
We must increase domestic revenue by cracking down on corruption and implementing a fair tax system. That way, we shall collect much more taxes than the current UGX 25 trillion which cannot finance even half of our budget.
I invite especially civil society organizations and private sector players to engage with us in this process of re-directing our country’s destiny.
I am confident that the alternative budget offers a viable roadmap to that end. It also addresses the most pressing issues in our economy.
But the alternatives you have heard from us today cannot work in isolation. That is why we must dedicate a significant portion of our efforts towards dislodging Museveni’s regime from power
Why? Because no matter how brilliant our alternative policies may be, they simply cannot be implemented under a military dictatorship whose only focus is staying in power at all cost.
Once the regime falls, Ugandans will come together and discuss how they want to be governed and how to utilize the country’s massive resources.
Thank you for listening to me ladies and gentlemen.
For God and my country.