“We are going to put sh500b in the innovation fund. The fund will help the scientists," says the NRM leader.
Throughout the campaign, President Yoweri Museveni, the flag-bearer of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), has emphasised five major wealth creation funds, which he said are crafted to tame poverty among households in the country.
On Tuesday, during a press conference at Jinja State Lodge, he said his colleagues have agreed to prioritise these funds by putting sh1 trillion in Operation Wealth Creation/ NAADS, sh234b in the youth fund, sh234b in the women fund and sh180b in the microfinance to boost saving groups at the village level.
The other fund is the innovation fund, which he said, would be given sh500b in the next budget to facilitate the innovation of scientists in the country on one hand, but also to help boost women and youth groups to start small scale enterprises to fight poverty.
“We have worked on the roads and we are going to work on more roads because of our trick of prioritisation. All this development has been done it using development funds. But the Basoga say ‘what you personally own is better than that which is owned by the community.’
“We are going to put sh500b in the innovation fund. The fund will help the scientists, but it will also be used to support the youth and women to get mini-industries,” he added.
The prioritisation concept
The NRM candidate, who Tuesday concluded his campaigns in Busoga subregion, said the wealth creation funds would be addressed using a similar formula the NRM government used when it prioritised electricity, roads, education, health and mainly immunisation campaigns.
Museveni told journalists that when there was a big problem of power shortage in 2005, he discussed with the NRM parliamentary caucus at the time and it was resolved to prioritise electricity.
“So, because we increased the budget from sh170b to sh2.9 trillion, we have been able to extend electricity. That is what we did with the roads,” he said.
At the time (2006), the Government used to spend sh300b on roads, but it was resolved to increase the funds to sh3.3 trillion today. The other problem, which Museveni said was resolved at that time, was the danger of donors funding development activities.
“I rejected it,” he said.
“I said from now on, the Government must fund both the recurrent and the development budgets. That is how we were able to fund the electricity budget. Donors are not your grandfathers, uncles, aunties; why do you think they will struggle to work on development projects? Ugandans say that they don’t have money, but for me I see that money is there,” he said.
Museveni said plans are underway to extend electricity to areas that don’t have, including the district headquarters of Nwoya, Buvuma, Kaabong and Kotido, which are not yet connected to the power grid. The other areas he singled out in Busoga region, include Nawaikoke and Busila. The other infrastructure projects that NRM candidate said would be implemented in Busoga region are the construction of the Iganga-Kaliro, Musita-Mayuge-Luminho, Jinja-Bulamuti-K amuli , Iganga-Bulopa-Kamuli, Kaliro- Nawendwa-Kamuli, Kamuli- Bukungu and Bugweri- Iganga-Namayingo roads.
Museveni said the message of NRM has always been that of development and wealth creation.
However, Museveni said the salaries of teachers and university dons will be implemented as agreed. He also told journalists that he knows that the implementation of some wealth creation funds, such as the youth fund has been plagued by corruption, pledging to deal with the thieves.
“I told the youth that my role is to grow for my family millet, harvest and put into the silo. It might be eaten by insects, but that setback can’t stop me from growing again. The distribution might have problems but we shall overcome,” Museveni said.
He partly blamed the failure to understand NRM programmes on the old guard at the NRM party secretariat for not doing enough to explain the programmes.
Unity, peace, development
The NRM candidate said the firm foundation for steady progress concept of NRM has succeeded because of the emphasis the Government put on unity.
“The message of the NRM is very clear. As usual, it is a message based on history and not imagination. Right from the beginning of our formation in the 1960s, we believed in unity and pan-Africanism. And we opposed sectarianism of tribe, religion, gender chauvinism, disregarding youth and discriminating people with disability. We believe in the contribution of all people in the country and Africa,” he said. Museveni said due to the message of unity, the country is now strong.
“This strength has created peace and peace has brought development,” he said.
I have a mission
Museveni said that the country has been able to register development because the NRM is a party with a mission.
“Development didn’t come just like that. You are lucky to have a party like NRM, where people work for a mission. I don’t work for positions, I work for a mission,” he said.
Under the development cocktail, Museveni said the concept of providing jobs for the youth is the other area that his government will tackle decisively.
“We have to get our children jobs because the electricity is already there, the roads have been worked on and the railway is going to be revamped. This is causing the infl ow of factories and industries and these will create jobs,” he said.
But Museveni said skilling the youth is the other gap that the Government will have to close.
“That is why we are building a technical school per constituency so that the youth have skills,” he said.
There are 100 technical schools in the country. However, building a technical school per constituency will bring the number to over 300.
“NRM is a very foresighted party. Ugandans are really moving. In areas such as Busoga, Pallisa, Bukedi and some parts of northern Uganda, central and the west, when I fly over, I see very many iron-sheet roofed houses. On the side of housing, people have woken up. They all have small good houses,” Museveni said.
On cultivation, he said farmers need to be taught about farming with calculation of how much money to mint from their farms. “They are just lacking two things, which we are going to help them do. Many have cultivated sugarcane or rice, but unless you do it on a large scale, you might not get much money,” he said, urging people to adopt enterprise cultivation.
“Everybody has woken up. The other thing they are not using is fertilisers. We are building a fertiliser factory in Tororo. We shall build one near Lake Kyoga, so that our people get high yields,” he added, explaining that from a banana plantation on a hectare without fertilisers, a farmer harvests five tonnes compared to 53 tonnes from a fertilizer-powered garden.
Museveni said the intervention is to explain the concept of enterprise cultivation.
Besigye, Muntu gratuity
Museveni, who said he has no problem with granting Jinja a city status, also responded to questions from journalists over claims made by Dr. Col. Kizza Besigye, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential flag-bearer and FDC president Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu that they have not been paid their veteran gratuity by the UPDF.
“You go and ask the clerk in the army. I didn’t check to find out who is not paid. But I will check out of interest. Many have been paid, but of course Besigye and Muntu don’t talk in a serious manner. They talk in an irresponsible way,” he said.
Museveni said the total debt of veterans was sh1.5trillion, but the outstanding debt now is sh500b.