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Uganda starts rough journey to self-sustained economy
www.chinaview.cn 2005-05-09 05:20:28

ˇˇBy Ssekandi Ronald     

    KAMPALA, May 8 (Xinhuanet) -- The Ugandan government has announced that it has started a long journey toward achieving a self-sustained economy, at time when there is increasing debate about the decision by Britain to cut aid to the east African country.

    Britain alleged inconsistencies in the political transition process underway in Uganda.

    In a statement published in the local press last Thursday, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said that the country must now turn to mobilizing resources from within so that the country can achieve the desired development other than constantly relying on donor countries.

    Uganda was rated as among the fastest growing countries in Africa 10 years ago, with a growth rate in economy defined as admirable, despite the fact that the country had gone through decades of political unrest and bad governance leading to poverty.

    Following the end of political turmoil in 1986, Uganda embarkedon major economic reforms which are today responsible for the growth in economy, which is mainly based on agriculture. The growth is now attracting many foreign investors to the country.

    It is on this basis that the Ugandan government is now looking at the possibilities of mobilizing resources from within rather than depending on donor aid that has many strings attached to achieve a self-sustained economy.

    The statement said the country is adopting various measures to achieve the long desired goal.

    The country has started adding value to its products before they are exported. According to President Museveni, the country and Africa at large, have been donating a lot of raw materials to the western world through exporting unprocessed products. He notedthat this has led to the continent losing a lot of money.

    "The coffee must be roasted and ground into powder, cotton mustbe turned into textiles, fruits into fruit juice," said Museveni.

    Uganda has already started the program of adding value to its products before they are exported. The processing of fish, tea andsugar has started.

    The county has stepped up its efforts of developing its tourismsector and strengthening tax revenue collection.

    The Ugandan government is also looking at its potential to produce oil and started to investigate the possibilities of oil exploration in the western part of the country.

    Currently Uganda is facing hike in fuel prices leading to protest from the business community in the country. About two weeks ago fuel prices went up hitting their highest in over 12 months.

    In the Thursday statement, President Museveni also said his government has resolved that it will industrialize the sectors in which country has got comparative advantage.

    He noted that if foreign capital is not forthcoming, the government shall encourage local capital, including limited state interference to kick-start certain sectors, after which they can be sold to the private sector.

    However, the country needs to move cautiously as it starts the journey toward a self-sustained economy.

    For a country like Uganda, it is still very difficult to do without donor aid, when donors fund half of its national budget and 90 percent of its development budget.

    Financial experts here have also pointed toward this direction.A senior financial official in the ministry of finance recently said that the government would not last for more than 6 months if all donor aid is cut off

    The aid freeze would force the country's central bank to dig deep into the country's foreign reserves, which at 1 billion US dollars are awfully inadequate.

    "We have only 6 billion dollars worth of imports, goods and services. We can only go for six months," Keith Muhakanizi, Uganda's deputy secretary to the treasury said.

    Therefore, the path taken to abandon donor aim may be rough to go through.

    Meanwhile, Uganda still faces a challenge of fighting corruption, one of the factors that have stalled development in many African countries. Corruption, coupled with bureaucracy, chases away potential investors.

    Uganda has tried to fight the evil, but a recent survey indicated that two out of every ten people did not know how to report corruption cases.

    The 19-year old rebellion in the north has also to be brought to an end. Currently the government with the help of humanitarian agencies has to cater for the 1.4 million people that have been displaced by the war.

    Observers said if measures are implemented cautiously, problemshandled properly, Uganda will certainly achieve the goal of a self-sustained economy. Enditem 

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