Uganda’s Latest Budget Ignores Social Programs and Devotes About 16% To Security Apparatus

Yoweri Museveni

Ugandan dictator and militarist Gen. Museveni. Photo: Facebook.

Harold Acemah

[Aluta Continua!]

Uganda’s new Financial Year begins on Thursday, July 1, 2021. The 2021/2022 FY will end on June 30, 2022. In line with a practice and tradition which started in the 1960s, Finance Ministers of the three original East African Community (EAC) countries, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, delivered their national Budgets the same day on Thursday, June 10, 2021. 

In Canada the fiscal year begins on April 1 and ends March 31, while in the USA it’s from October 1 to September 30.

When I was an undergraduate student at Makerere College of the University of East Africa, in the 1960s, our academic year coincided with the financial years of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

A comparative analysis of the Budgets of the three EAC countries shows some interesting differences and similarities. Unlike in the 1960s when the overall size of the Budgets of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda were more or less the same, the new Budget of Kenya is twice that of Tanzania and almost three times that of Uganda which raises many troubling questions for our country.

The population of kenya is about 54 million, Tanzania 58 million, and Uganda 45 million.  

In U.S. dollar terms, Kenya’s Budget for the 2021/2022 FY is $34 billion, that of Tanzania $15.6 billion and that of Uganda is a paltry $12.7 billion—about Shs 45 trillion—which explains why Kenya is now classified as a middle-income economy. On the contrary, Uganda, under gross mismanagement and misrule by the National Resistance Movement (NRM) regime, is not only lagging behind, but much of the former “pearl of Africa” appears to be sliding rapidly towards a dubious category called a fourth world country. What a tragedy.

One of the similarities in the Budgets is that the three countries plan to borrow heavily—$15.88 billion—from external and domestic sources to fund economic recovery plans and ambitious infrastructure projects, such as roads, railways and for Uganda and Tanzania the Hoima-Tanga crude oil pipeline. This will increase the alarming debt burden of the three countries.

In the 1960s and 1980s, under Uganda People’s Congress (UPC)-led governments, the priority sectors for the purpose of allocating financial resources in the national Budget were Education, Agriculture and Health to fight ignorance, poverty and disease which are sadly rampant in Uganda today.

The priority sectors of the NRM regime outlined in the new Budget are Defense, Energy, Works and Transport, including infrastructure. It goes without saying that these are wrong priorities for a poor developing country like Uganda whose leading and primary resource are its gallant, industrious and law-abiding people. Hence, the need for the government to invest heavily in the health, development and prosperity of Uganda’s human resources.

The defense and security sector was allocated a whopping Shs 6.9 trillion—almost $2 billion—which is the lion’s share of Uganda’s resource envelope, allegedly to pay for military operations in South Sudan and Eastern DR Congo which is infested with numerous rebel groups and bandits, including the notorious ADF. The bitter and unpleasant truth is that this enormous and wasteful military budget, much of it classified expenditure, is for the protection and survival of an unpopular regime in an increasingly hostile political environment.

At the recently held January 14 elections, Luweero—which for over 30 years was the political Mecca of NRM—and the rest of Buganda kingdom voted decisively and overwhelmingly against NRM and supported the National Unity Platform (NUP) which is barely one year old as a political party. The NRM regime’s predicament in Buganda is not a military problem, but a political problem created entirely by the corrupt, morally decadent, violent, incompetent and dishonest NRM regime. There is no lasting, credible and viable military solution to political problems.

NRM must find a peaceful and political solution to the political problems it has created which made its former ally, Buganda kingdom, reject this so-called multi-ideological mass party. I tell you, the use of force and intimidation will not change the minds and position of the Baganda people who have finally seen the light. I guess, better late than never. Uganda deserves a lot better. 

Aluta continua!

Arua, Uganda.

June 22, 2021.

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