The State Minister of Finance for Planning Hon. David Bahati has this morning opened the 9th National Competitiveness Forum in Kampala with good news of a growing economy.
The forum which takes place annually before drawing the budget helps the finance ministry to engage with the private sector, the civil society, academia and development partners on matters affecting Business environment and the drivers of Enterprise growth and competitiveness.
This year's forum is running under the theme; "Creating an Enabling Environment for Enterprise Growth and Competitiveness."
Hon. Bahati told participants that Uganda's economy in the 2017-2018 financial year has grown and is at 6.1% (GDP) above the projected 5.7%. He attributed this to improved services like hotels and tourism, infrastructure and agriculture.
The minister however says there is still room for improvement as there is no money in people's pockets. He pointed at challenges like poor quality products by farmers which cannot make the cut on the world market.
He however says Ugandans have been provided with good roads to transport their produce and that they have enough land to cultivate, so they just need to improve in their products. He added that though Uganda is very entrepreneurial, there's not enough competitive businesses.
Prof. Waswa Balunywa the MUBs principal told the gathering however, that infrastructures will not help if there's no produce to transport. He based his presentation on improvement in education sector, calling for more attention to technical and vocational institutes at an early stage of a student's growth.
According to the professor, such schools which are supposed to skill students have been left for p.7 and s.4 failures which is dangerous.
He added that the science sector also needs to be revamped. Prof. Balunywa also cited the failure by Uganda to mine its own minerals due to lack of skilled scientists to do this. "We can't even get our oil from the soil, we need to put emphasis on science" he said.
Senior lawyer Dr. Elly Karuhanga said Uganda's problem is that the country is run as a government not a business. He says a government is for politicians who cannot do business but rather tax people, and increase these taxes every year, until they force some companies into closure.
He added that while cabinet sits every Monday at Entebbe, it has never invited private business men to advise them on how to run the economy, but that these politicians who have no knowledge about economics go ahead to make laws that are later passed by Parliament which is also full of politicians and no businessmen.
He calls for inclusiveness if the economy is to improve. He also explained that there is too much fear in the country where corruption is at it's peak. "When you approach a ministry employee about an issue, they fear to speak to you, they then refer yo to the permanent secretary.
The PS will also fear and refer you to the minister. The.minister will refer you the the Prime Minister. The PM then refers you to the President, who in turn refers you to the people" Kaeuhanga said.
The one day forum has attracted former ministers, members of the academia, representatives of World Banks, commercial banks, private sector among others.