Balanced regional development will be the focus of the third National Development Plan (NDP III), Matia Kasaija, the minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development has said.
The minister told the recent National Budget Conference held at Serena hotel in Kampala, that going forward; no region should be left far too behind in terms of development. The National Budget Conference kick-started consultations on the budget for the financial year 2020/2021.
He said beginning with the financial year 2020/21, government will be allocating money to fund projects in one region at-a-time to ensure that all regions are at the same level of development by the end of NDP III.
“We have realised that the private sector cannot invest in certain areas where there are no immediate profits and as government we shall be allocating funds for projects like factories in such areas and after their take-off, we give them to private investors. This will spur development in all regions,” Kasaija said, adding that after developing one region, funds will be allocated to another region until government is satisfied that all regions are at the same level of development.
He said in the NDP II, government set itself a goal to get Ugandans into the middle-income status by 2020 and significant strides have been made. He said every Ugandan is now earning on average US$ 825 per year, adding that by the closure of the plan in June 2020, every Ugandan will be earning US$ 1,039 (about Shs 3.7m).
“Beyond the monetary measures, we have already laid a firm foundation for the economy to thrive. The stock of social service, trade and export infrastructure has increased and export earnings have increased from US$ 3.4 billion to US$ 5.3 billion between 2011 and 2018, Kasaija added.
He said NDP III seeks to consolidate the cumulative gains made over the previous plans and unlock new opportunities for all Ugandans. He added, however, that for the plan to be successful, challenges like low levels of agricultural productivity, an uncompetitive private sector and constraints to private sector investment must be dealt with.
In his speech, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said over the last 10 years government has made significant progress in building an infrastructure base to support growth, wealth creation and provision of social services especially in energy, transport, ICT, agriculture, health and education adequate to make the economy competitive.
He, however, said there is need to replicate such successes countrywide as well as address regional inequality and poverty especially in the eastern and northern regions.
“The private sector is also crucial to the growth of the economy. It is, therefore, critical for the private sector players to be engaged in these budget consultations so that they can make relevant proposals to the government to address specific challenges that hinder their growth,” Rugunda added.
He further said that discussions on budget proposals for FY 2020/21 should emphasize commercialisation and industrialisation of the economy with particular focus on agro industrialisation, the development of vital minerals and strategic commodities to enable the country add value to the commodities so that they can easily penetrate export markets.