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Sectoral reforms imperative for Uganda’s sustainable development

By Admin

Added 5th July 2018 03:21 PM

While infrastructural development in Uganda is envisaged to drive the economy into a middle income status by 2020, little attention has been paid to the drivers of economic growth, such as agriculture and human development.

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While infrastructural development in Uganda is envisaged to drive the economy into a middle income status by 2020, little attention has been paid to the drivers of economic growth, such as agriculture and human development.

DRIVERS OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

By Samantha Byarugaba


On June 14, 2018 the Minister of Finance presented the National Budget for FY 2018/19 worth sh32.7 trillion to citizens and development partners. Major allocations were made to three main priorities which include works and transport, interest payments and energy and mineral development with 21.4%, 12.3% and 11.5% respectively.

While infrastructural development in Uganda is envisaged to drive the economy into a middle income status by 2020, little attention has been paid to the drivers of economic growth, such as agriculture and human development. 

Agriculture employs 72% of Uganda’s population yet received only 3.8% allocation; while education which is the gateway to knowledge and skills was allocated 11% of the budget share and health received only 7.4%. Whether the unclear number of refugees in Uganda are to benefit from these shares, is another discussion

Although resource allocation in itself is not a given to boost growth, the allocations rendered to these crucial sectors seem to fall below the required levels and, therefore, they are delivering at a very sluggish rate.

World Bank in its June 2018 report, “ Closing the Potential-Performance Divide in Ugandan Agriculture”,  indicates that over the last 25 years, agricultural sector growth has been erratic and slow at a rate of 2% with negative output growth for the past 10 years, meaning the sector doesn’t fully and optimally utilise even the minimal resources due to capacity challenges.

Farmers must be availed with quality and state of the art inputs to improve the standard of commercialised agriculture not just because they are in stock, but to meet their specific needs to ensure high yields and maximum profitability.  

On Education, Save the Children, International’s End of Childhood, 2018 report indicates that numbers of pupils enrolled in primary school have increased from 8.7 million pupils in 2013 to 10.2 million pupils in 2017.

However, statistics show that only 28% of children progress  to attend secondary school which indicates high dropout rates and only 20% of children in Primary Three can achieve primary two proficiency in English reading and comprehension while  just 30% in numeracy and basic subtraction. This questions the quality of education that these enrolled children receive. 

Health sector on the other hand is also struggling with poor service delivery and infrastructural constraints. The Commissioner for Planning at the Health Ministry stated that the sh276b allocation to National Medical Stores means that sh7,700 is available to every Ugandan for this year to access medicines. This falls below the WHO recommendation of $84 (about sh323,115) per citizen in a country.

A critical analysis on the education and health budgets shows that a larger percentage are  eaten up by teachers’ salaries  and medical workers’  facilitation which doesn’t directly reflect on improving development efforts in the sectors. 

The Government should focus substantial expenditure on school inputs that deliver not only on enrollment numbers but quality education; while in the health sector, attention should be paid to consistently addressing the tenets of primary health care to improve community wellness for increased productivity of the labour force.

Economic growth alone is not creditable if human development and efforts to improve livelihoods are stifled, because the biggest resource a nation has for development is the quality and efficiency of its human resource.

Therefore, more effort should be channeled to planning, budgeting and ensuring that resource allocations yield the desired deliverables in a bid to provide quality public services but also for sustainable development.  

The writer works with Uganda Debt Network














 

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