Museveni’s one year of Hakuna Mchezo

By Ofwono Opondo

May, 18, 17
Government plans to present the 2017/18 national budget on June 8, 2017, and it is also one year after the 2016 general elections in which a social contract was made with Ugandan on the premise of taking them to  a prosperous lower middle-income nation by 2020. The next budget will be under the theme “Industrialisation and shared prosperity.” Broadly the NRM party committed itself to run a government that would take Uganda to modernity through job and wealth creation, and attainment of inclusive development. To achieve that goal, President Yoweri Museveni directed all ministries, departments and agencies to integrate their sector policy plans with the National Planning Framework, the manifesto commitments as well as the strategic guidelines and directives.

In this half year tracking, we have sampled out some critical MDAs and assessed their deliverables against manifesto commitments for the period ended December 2016. This having been the first year of implementation of the manifesto, it is generally observable that most policy projects, programs and their respective activities across government are in preparatory stages of design and procurement. It is expected that by the end of the first financial year, in June 2017, most strategic undertakings in the manifesto will have made significant progress in terms of actual works and deliverables. However, there is also noticeable and widespread laxity in many government departments and among officials who continue with the old ways of “I don’t care” attitude which should be stumped out if speedy progress is to be registered.

During the first eight months of this mandate, a number of milestones were achieved including swearing in the President, Cabinet, Members of Parliament and all elected leaders of Local Government. For emphasis, President Museveni issued twenty three Strategic Guidelines and Directives to cabinet as priorities of focus. The directives were to reinforce the broader plan envisaged in the manifesto. All MDAs are therefore, required to report on progress made so far. The Manifesto Implementation Unit in the Office of the President tracks implementation.

Economic growth rate for FY 2016/17 was revised down from 5.5% to 4.5%. The revision was on account of effects of the prolonged draught which that affected agricultural output and industries involved in agro processing. The other cause for slower output was sluggish growth in advanced economies, low international commodity prices, weak global trade, and diminishing capital flows. Locally, businesses faced a surge in non-performing loans which has forced commercial banks to tighten lending standards, further squeezing the flow of credit.
The average annual headline inflation in the first half of 2016/17, declined to 4.8% from 6.2% average recorded in the previous financial year. Despite this relative decline, headline inflation increased in the last two months of the period under review from 4.2% in October 2016 to 4.6% and 5.7% in November and December 2016 respectively. This increase in inflation was driven by two main factors, reduced food supplies as a result of drought across the country and increased demand for various services during the festive season.

The Bank of Uganda eased monetary policy through the first half of Financial Year 2016/17, with gradual trimming of its benchmark, the Central Bank Rate (CBR) from 15 and to the current 11% in an effort to spur faster flow of credit. Uganda continues to enjoy peace across the country save for few incidents of criminally, which is being sorted out by security organs of the state.

The war against corruption is in high gear. Organs of the state charged with curtailing corruption have been given new instructions and the results are visible. Top government officials including a minister have been arrested and are under trial in courts of law.  

Government has continued to register further positive developments in the Energy and Mineral sector. 98% of the persons to be affected by the project have been compensated. The delay to complete the whole exercise is on account of legal complaints which are yet to be settled by courts.

 Inception report for the master plan for the Industrial park submitted and approved. Draft Interim report submitted and reviewed. Government during the period under review was engaging investors who have expressed interest in the development of the Refinery whose negotiations should be concluded during 2017.

The construction of the Karuma hydro power dams is progressing and it is hoped that by 2018 Uganda should excess, and at relatively lower tariff. Excavation of power house, HRT 1-6, pressure shaft are at 100%. Concreting work at the power intake and dam are at 25% and 31% respectively. Construction works is at 51%.

At Isimba construction has progressed well and in advanced stages, and almost 80% of the equipment is on site. Overall, 62.25% of the works have been completed and project is targeted to be commissioned in December 2018.

There is tremendous progress in revamping the health sector. Indeed, most health facilities across the country are undergoing reconstruction and are being reequipped. Mulago national referral hospital is in its final phase of reconstruction and once completed next year it will be of the highest standard in the region. The education and agriculture sectors continue to register steady progress and massive investments are being made. Uganda continues to score highly on the diplomatic front with President Museveni becoming a global consultant on peace and security.