Uganda Peoples Congress
Uganda Peoples Congress
Plot 8-10 Kampala Road, Uganda House,
P. O. Box 9206, Kampala
The 2008/2009 Budget is a Disaster for Uganda's Workers
(Embargoed for release at 11.00am, 18th June, 2008)
- In our last week's press statement, the UPC alluded to the then forthcoming budget. In paragraph 9 we stated:
"On Thursday another NRM budget will be read. Given the well known poor record of NRM there will be no surprise. The UPC wishes to alert the nation not to expect any real relief, short of empty promises, for the long suffering peasants, workers, students and genuinely struggling business people. The money will still remain with the Generals and members of a few favoured families and well-connected investors. The only alternative for the people of Uganda is to follow the UPC lead and organise to free themselves from the NRM heroes and leaders who are hell bent to ruin Uganda to decay."
Our prediction has come to pass.
- It is the long standing position of the UPC that all economic policy including the national budget must be people centred. In our view, economic development is only meaningful and sustainable if the majority of the people, which in Uganda's circumstances are the peasants and workers, realistically benefit from the fruits of their labour. If, as reported in this year's budget, the economy grew by 9.1% last year then there must be a near corresponding improvement in the earning and living conditions of Uganda's peasants and workers.
- The reality as reflected in the budget itself is pathetic. The underlying inflation, which is understated since the dramatic rise in oil and food prices is not included, stands at 8.6%. This means that the cost of living for the majority of the people of Uganda worsened by a minimum of 8.6%. If the escalating prices of food and transport are factored in, the people of Uganda are worse of by over 10 % at last years price levels. Since food and fuel prices will continue to escalate, the cost of living will continue to grow and adversely affect the living conditions of workers.
- This year's budget has not given any life line to the suffering workers of Uganda. The wages of public sector workers, which also influence what the private sector can pay, are pathetically low. Indeed with no minimum wage in place, some private sector workers earn as low as Shs. 30.000 per month. Any income above Shs. 130.000 is taxed in the form of pay as you earn. In this year's budget, there has been no increase in salaries and wages and no tax relief in terms of increasing the tax threshold or reducing the tax percentages. This budget has left the workers poorer.
- As long as the workers, who are the engine of production and growth, are left to wallow in poverty, there will be no sustainable development in Uganda. The country will continue to witness:-
- Desertion from public duty especially by heath workers, police officers, army men and women, teachers and others.
- Absenteeism from duty,
- Late coming,
- Despondency at work,
- More temptation to corrupt practices, misuse of public offices and facilities and out right theft of public funds and other resources.
- The poor pay and poor working conditions, moreover in a situation where political and public services leaders and their cronies in the private sector are openly corrupt, will all combine to defeat any of the projected growth of the economy. There will be a race to self aggrandisement and the big budgets for roads and other infrastructure will turn out to be a curse other than a blessing. With poor delivery of services especially in the public sector as a result of poor pay and endemic corruption, Uganda will continue to be a poor destination for investors. The cost of doing business will continue to escalate and scare away genuine investors.
- As the UPC has stated before, the NRM priorities are upside down. There is no goodwill for work for the uplifting of the living conditions of the workers of Uganda. The deprived majority have only one option, namely to organise and wrest power from the parasitic and despotic NRM government.
For God and my Country
Peter Walubiri Mukidi