PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has warned speculators and traders who buy and horde essential commodities, cause scarcity and sell when prices are high, that the Government will re-enter the market to curtail their greed.
This, he explained, would be done by the Government importing and selling at minimal prices, or buying food and essential items when there is plenty of harvest, and selling on the market during scarcity.
Addressing the nation on Bukedde TV and Bukedde FM yesterday about the state of the economy currently stung by inflation and high commodity prices, Museveni said these would soon be overcome with strategic interventions. The two stations belong to the Vision Group.
â€œInternal prices are up because of speculators. At Kakira and Lugazi, the price of sugar is sh2,248 per kg, including taxes. But when somebody comes and sells it in Kampala at sh5,000 or sh6,000, such a person will not go to heaven. He is just a thief,â€ he said.
He urged traders to stop the practice forthwith. He said the price of matooke in Mbarara, is sh5,000 for a medium-sized bunch, sh10,000, for the bigger bunch, while the biggest goes for sh13,000.
â€œBut I hear in town a bunch can go up to 25,000. So you can see these are speculators and I would like them to stop. If they donâ€™t stop, I will find medicine for them, and the medicine is arresting them.They should not think they have the monopoly of trade.
â€œIf they continue mistreating Ugandans, he added, NRM might consider starting its own companies to deal in these commodities and sell them to people at a minimal profit. We can get a bunch of matooke at sh10,000, sell it sh14,000 get low profits, but undermine those thieves,â€ he said.
But since the harvest season is near, he added, prices are expected to come down.
We need to export more
Blaming the inflationary problems on the global economy, Museveni said Ugandans must struggle to produce and export more than they import, in order to balance its trade and gain in on the dollar.
The other problem causing inflation, he added, is increasing consumption by Ugandans.
â€œWhen you buy from outside, we do so in dollars and when we sell, we also get dollars. But the dollars we get from selling do not equal to what we spend on importing. That is where the disequilibrium is. That is why you hear dollars are becoming more expensive,â€ he said
â€œI have been seeing people crying, crisis crisis! But I see no crisis! I see opportunities and challenges,â€ he said.
He castigated the opposition whom he said orchestrated riots and demonstrations that chased away tourists, sabotaged building of the Bujagali hydro power dam and construction of a sugar factory in Amuru.
He emphasised the need to invest more in tourism to double earnings, fish farming, tea, coffee, fruits, maize, milk and meat processing.
Keep off Jenniffer Musisi
About tensions between Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and executive director Jenniffer Musisi, the President said he had a lot of confidence in Musisi since the former managers of the city had messed it up. He warned those trying to fight her to keep off.
â€œWhen these past mayors were elected, where were their services? They were bringing you gabbage, flies and dust. Is that service? The few days Musisi has been in office, she discovered machinery that had been stored, started repairing roads at low cost with them, collected garbage, swept roads and now she is the bad person?â€ he asked.
Musisi was given authority, he added, because the city was run down.
â€œIn the past, they elected Ssebaana Kizito, then Nasser Ssebaggala, now we have Erias Lukwago. all those cannot help. We discussed that we should put an expert who is not a politician. If Lukwago wants to seal potholes, let him work with this lady,â€ he said.
On Ssebagala eviction from house
On the eviction of former mayor Nasser Ssebagala from the Town Clerkâ€™s house and the eminent eviction of the coordinator of intelligence, Gen. David Tinyefuza, he said when Ssebagala earlier explained it to him, he first agreed with him, but when Musisi explained the legalities, he was swayed.
â€œYou cannot be a sitting tenant in an institutional house. Itâ€™s like saying I am a sitting tenant in State House and want to buy it. I told Ssebagala that this lady had an issue, and Ssebagala got angry, although I was supportive of him at first. She is a careful lady. They should treat her with respect,â€ he said.
He sent condolences to those who lost their property in the Nakivubo parkyard fire, but stressed that they have to work with the Government to find a suitable location and building materials.
On the ministerial nominees who were rejected, he said he was going to examine the report of the appointments committee and sit with NRM members to decide a way forward.
Museveni warns speculators