Monday, July 10, 2017

Everything in #Uganda is secondary to politics - #Museveni economy

In its current iteration, the political elite seem to believe that the solution to every problem involves throwing money at voters. This partly explains the fiasco in the electoral system and it’s why efforts to seriously address any single major problem the country faces are conspicuous by their absence.
Everything else seems to be secondary to politics. A lot has been said about infrastructure development, poverty alleviation, disentangling the corruption mesh, but no concrete plans have been offered. Parliament shows few signs of coming up with anything anytime soon. The ruling party loves to say they want to help those totally crippled by poverty.
Yet action skewed in that direction has been quite paltry. Apart from rhetoric, there are still no comprehensive proposals for, say, retooling and skilling Ugandans through fast-tracking subsidised technical training. There have been attempts to eliminate regulations protecting workers and consumers; rationalised as necessary for attracting foreign investors. This could just be a kind of trickle-down economics in another form; whatever fulfils the desires of the investors and the most-privileged sectors, is declared good for everyone else. But God forbid that government ever does anything substantial to help the indigenous investors, non-wealthy urbanites and rural peasantry directly.
It’s not true that every problem has a government solution, but it is true that we have reached a stage of helplessness when certain problems can only be addressed by government. One of these is helping a majority of the poor afford decent healthcare. It’s this simple: To cover everyone’s healthcare and facilitate the financing of the necessary polytechnics, government has to spend a lot of money. The whopping amounts mentioned in most corruption scandals give the impression that the government has a lot of money and can afford to pay the bill.
There is no getting around it. One can’t do what the government sometimes claims it wants to do without hurting many people waiting to feast on such resources to be allocated for such activities. That is why pious pleas for political parties to work together are, for now, empty. Of course, it would be far better for all political parties, tendencies and all stakeholders to minimise politics for the sake of agreeing on ways of improving the country’s health system, and it’s nice to hear increasing number of self-less MPs saying so.
To get to that point, the NRM government would have to abandon the fiction that they can slash spending on key sectors of the economy and disproportionately increase allocations to non-productive ones without anyone or the country as a whole paying a huge price. It also needs to accept that government will have to take urgent and consistent action to rein in errant healthcare workers, harder bargaining with drug companies, getting tougher with investors, who with impunity, flout existing investment and other relevant laws, underpay or mistreat their employees. This healthcare imbroglio that has resulted into many Ugandans losing their lives when they would otherwise wouldn’t if the health sector had more funding and closer monitoring of its operations was to be more robust, should be the government’s moment of truth.
If increasing taxes, inventing new disguised ones and scaling back government in economic activity are all that matters to them, then they should stop pretending they care about solving problems that require substantial government outlays. They can as well dismiss themselves as economic libertarians, which if not ideologically correct, would at least be intellectually coherent.
Or they can drop the excessive tax obsession and admit that delivering what most Ugandans want would necessitate returning to some form of economic patriotism along with nearly every other indigenous investor if it hopes to guarantee, well, free votes! Only some form of Big Government can get the country to the much hyped middle income status [Inshallah] by the stipulated date.
By Samuel Baligidde.  Mr. Baligidde is a former diplomat and teaches at Uganda Martyrs University-Nkozi

Everything else in Uganda seems to be secondary to politics

Monday July 10 2017 Everything else seems to be secondary to politics. A lot has been said about infrastructure development, poverty alleviation, disentangling the corruption mesh, but no concrete plans have been offered.

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