KAMPALA: President Museveni appeared bullish about the state of the country’s economic, social and political state, in his State of Nation Address delivered today evening at the Kampala Serena Hotel.
In his address to the last session of the ninth parliament, Mr Museveni pointed out key priorities, infrastructure development, Energy and Defence and Security which he said were key in Uganda’s lead forward to becoming “a middle class income in the coming years.”
His confidence comes barely a week to the reading of next financial year’s 2015/2016 budget on June 11th which is expected to detail how government plans to spend the Shs24 trillion that was approved by parliament last week on Friday.
In a roughly 1 hour and 40 minutes address presented with humour and laced with anecdotes that included attacks MPs whom he accused of wasting time on what he termed as peripheral issues and leave out the core issues that affect Ugandans and “poor investors”, the president exuded optimism and said Uganda was on a steady path to growth.
He however, intentionally sidestepped discussing politics, saying “matters concerning politics should be handled in accordance with constitutional provisions.”
Defending drown envelopes
Cresting the fifth address in his fourth term, the president also made a strong case for the practice of handing out brown envelopes to voters. He said handing out brown envelope was a wrong practice, but when accosted by opposition MPs on whether he is walking the talk, he said he does hand out envelopes because he is President.
“My sister Cicila Ogwal, [Opposition Chief Whip] here is saying that I am the one who has brought the bad culture by giving out envelopes. But I am president, you are not president…,” he said as congregation burst out in laughter.
“Those envelopes, I really find it difficult. I am a president, and I live in Kampala. I come once in the rural area. The people will not see me for another five years,” he noted “And according to most of those people’s cultures, I am a Madit [a big person in Acholi]. I have to give them something.”
Address in bits
The President says the government will support value addition to ensure that the country is liberated from the slavery of exporting raw materials. He explains that copper from Kasese will be taken to Cable Corporation of Uganda to turn it into cable that is ready for the market. The sugar factory in Amuru, according to Museveni, has been delayed by some MPs which is abuse of power.
He says the global demand for milk is 625 million metric tonnes which means that if each rural household had six cows, Uganda would get millions of dollars from supplying such huge markets. He says coffee production is being promoted to reach the country’s target of getting $1. billion from coffee exports from the current $400 million.
Security is now assured in the entire country. He says the pending problems to handle are murder, corruption, tax evasion, money laundering among others. He says police is defeated because they are still using rudimentary methods of investigating crime. He says all major towns in Uganda will have CCTV cameras to improve security. He says the computerised identity card project is part of the effort to reduce crime and expedite investigations.
After handling roads and electricity, effort will be channeled to supporting scientific research and innovation in Uganda.
He says other dams like Ayago, will be constructed when the money from oil starts coming in. This, he says will give Uganda a capacity of 4,356 megawatts. He says Uganda now generates 1,974 megawatts. He, however, says this is very small compared to countries like UK that produce 55,000 megawatts. In 1986, Uganda’s generation capacity was 60 megawatts.
President Museveni says many leaders over the years concentrate on peripheral issues and fail to address the core issues, which has affected development. Without foreign aid, he says, Uganda has been 1,627 kilometres of electricity transmission line since 2006. He says 328 million dollars were used to start the construction of Isimba and Karuma power dams without waiting for money from Chinese companies.