President Museveni says he is optimistic about the economy despite what he called a few challenges like regional conflicts and prolonged drought in 2016.
Commenting on the 2017/18 national budget on Thursday, Mr Museveni said the economy by and large is on the right path despite two challenges of conflict and drought.
“Newspapers have been giving a pessimistic view of the economy. The Bible says they have eyes but they don’t see. They have ears but don’t hear. Failing is part of success. Therefore we shall learn from our mistakes, and keep trying until we succeed,” said Mr Museveni.
Mr Museveni said for once the 29-trillion-shilling budget for the financial year 2017/2018 is anchored on a strong local base unlike in previous years.
The president cited the bases as peace, electricity, new roads and the proposed standard gauge railway as well as rehabilitation of the old railway system.
“Besides building the SGR we shall also repair the old one to Gulu and Pakwach. That railway will carry equipment to L. Albert and oil fields. Rail-water transport will do a lot to lower cost of transport,” he added.
Museveni said focus will be put on transformation of educated youth, whom he described as property-less and job-less, into property owners and job creators.
Youth unemployment by many sources, including the World Bank, stands at 83 percent, with watchers predicting hard times ahead if they are not empowered.
“On unemployment, we must convert our young people from joblessness to employed and with property. The NRM has created a good base for this,” he noted.
The president also cited agriculture, agro-processing, promotion of foreign direct investments and boosting the Uganda Manufacturers Association as other strategies of boosting the economy.
He said it is crucial for Uganda to make good use of her abundant resources by adding value to them instead of exporting them in raw form.
According to him, Ugandans are also wasting their purchasing power by spending lots of money on foreign products and services.
On cost of money, Museveni said he is lowering interest rates for manufacturers and farmers only and not traders whom, as he put it, “can keep suffering”.
“Government is working towards lowering interest rates for manufacturers and farmers. Borrowing for farmers and manufacturers will go down,” he noted.
On Operation Wealth Creation, the president said big strides are being made, receiving jabs from the opposition legislators who kept heckling him throughout his speech.
“Through Operation Wealth Creation we are attacking ‘Pur mecham pekene’ (agriculture for only eating),” he noted.
On oil and gas, the president said the old railway line to Pakwach will be rehabilitated to ferry equipment, which will then be transported by water to the oil operations in the Lake Albert Basin.
The president peppered his comments with lots of jibes at the opposition who also outdid themselves heckling him.
” NRM was cursed with blessings. That is why it has been in power for so long,” he said.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, told the opposition and other MPs that they will be given the opportunity to respond to the president’s remarks and the budget later.