Experts have tipped the government on key strategies to put in place to recover from the economic crisis that has hit the country.
The cost of living has been rising since the beginning of the year with increase in the prices of various commodities such as fuel and food.
The government blamed this on the effects of the Covid-19-induced lockdown and the Ukraine war.
During the 9th Annual National Conference on Economic Social and Cultural Rights yesterday, the executive director of the National Planning Authority (NPA), Dr Joseph Muvawala, advised the government to lower the cost of credit to boost private sector investment as one of the ways to improve the standard of living of Ugandans.
“We need to pursue a deliberate move to recapitalise the Uganda Development Bank to make credit available to our local investors at affordable rates,” Dr Muvawala said in a speech read for him by Mr Maxwell Odongo, a planner, education and skills development officer at NPA.
Dr Muvawala urged the government to reduce spending on imports such as vehicles and military hardware to create fiscal space for priorities and release pressure from the exchange rate.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), fiscal space is defined as a room in a government’s budget that allows it to provide resources for the desired purpose without jeopardising the sustainability of its financial position or the stability of the economy.
The Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, asked the government to establish an agriculture bank to give farmers money at low-interest rates, something he said will boost production and growth in the country.
“Agriculture is the backbone of this country which should be prioritised. Since 60 percent of people depend on agriculture, we should give them special consideration,” Prof Nawangwe said.
He also called for more funding for education and research, saying that with good investment in research, economic growth is guaranteed from an informed point of view.
Ms Salim Namusobya, the executive director of the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights, said: “The government should adopt strategies that do not only focus on recovery for urban people but all. We should prioritise financing public service goods like education and health that have gone up to enable all people to access them without stressing.”
Ms Dianah Ateenyi, an assistant lecturer at Makerere University, called for tax justice, where the rich who can pay taxes are made to pay as opposed to exploiting the poor at the expense of the rich.
The Commissioner of Policy Development in the Office of the president, Dr Abubakar Muhammad Moki, said the government has tried its best to promote agriculture but rampant land fragmentation has made this difficult since people do not have enough land.
The two-day conference was organised by Makerere University School of Law in partnership with other non-government agencies as the university celebrates 100 years in existence.