Statistics predict that at her rate of economic growth, Uganda will be a 1sustainable economy after 1,870 years; precisely in 3885. Shocked? Well, you are not alone! I’m not the kind of person who writes about politics and economic issues, but these statistics hit me right between the eyes and got me thinking about politics vis-à-vis our dear economy.
You see, ours is a unique country. As a matter of fact, it is the pearl of Africa! So, one wonders why we are named among the 2developing countries! The answer is the same for all other developing countries all around the world.
Personally, I have attended many conferences, campaigns, launching of manifestos, political debates and listened to a number of political analyses and a lot more to the extent that I can memorize all the remedies our economy needs to develop –campaigns that explain what our economy should do to help its people and also develop.
Often times, these strategies are repeated over and over, again and again: Reduce unemployment levels (suggest ways of how, naming all the entrepreneurship and employment patterns, I mean you have heard these wonderful strategies, yes?), change the education system, improve and invest more in the health sector, better infrastructures, increment on the agricultural budget, the engagement of women and youth into politics; it even goes as deep as gender equality and empowerment for the women. Sometimes sports, arts and recreation are also mentioned. The list goes on and on!
These are all undeniably good strategies, especially when they are explained to the depth. You will actually find that these very strategies are similar for most leaders, only that they are emphasized with a different insight or perspective. Like I said, these are very good strategies BUT there is something that most of us skip; it is the most important, if not actually the uttermost salient of them all!
Ooh, I do not need bail money to write this.
Anyway, if our dear economy is to develop and become fully sustainable, there is a dire “Need” to change or work on our institutions. Period!
Allow me explain: statistical research proves that there is a direct correlation between good institutions and development. Stay with me here, stay with me. The thing is, institutions are very important tools for development. Take a look at the strategies mentioned above and you will see that all those to be implemented successfully require good institutions. Be it in Infrastructures, Health sector, Education, agriculture, the oil, I mean anything that you can think of.
The question is; where then do most of the institutions go wrong? Be my guest and I’ll show you.
Most of the money from taxes given to institutions goes to individual offshores accounts. Figures show that money lost to offshores accounts is between 10 billion to 20 billion dollars every year! I am using dollars because those figures will tend to infinity in shillings. Truth be told, without an adequate tax base3, we can’t invest in education, health, transport, agriculture and all the other. We have sang, cried, written poems, articles in papers about this one evil –Corruption. The pleas fall on deaf ears!
In other news, are you aware that corruption is the reason for clan based employment? You have probably seen or heard of institutions where most of the employees are shortlisted by the employer basing on clan and relationship. Read: Connections. When an institution has this nature of employment, employees neglect the diversity of the whole population. I guess you see where I am pointing, yes?
Bottom line: If Uganda’s institutions continue to be this bad (Corrupt and using clan based employment) irrespective of all the taxes we give in, we shall always and I repeat, always lag behind in development.
[Polite line coming through] I am not saying our institutions are really bad, but I know they can do way better!
“People.. were poor not because they were stupid or lazy. They worked all day long, doing complex physical tasks. They were poor because the financial institution in the country did not help them widen their economic base.” ― Muhammad Yunus, Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle
against World Poverty
1 Where a country can meet the human development goals while it maintains the ability of natural systems to continue providing to natural resources and ecosystem services upon which it depends.
2 A poor agricultural country that is seeking to become more advanced economically and socially
3 Total of taxable assets, income, and assessed value of property within the tax jurisdiction of a government.