Bahati: $2.5bn oil cash puts us on path to prosperity

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David Bahati, the State Minister of Finance for Planning, is confident that once Uganda’s oil starts to flow, the economy will leap and accord citizens the desired prosperity.

Bahati was breaking down the 2017/18 FY budget on NBS TV “Frontline” programme Thursday night, alongside Hon. Robert Centenary, Alex Mukunda, Ofwono Opondo, Miria Matembe and Norbert Mao.

“Once the oil comes out,” Bahati said, “we expect to get $2.5bn per annum.”

He said the most important thing is that Uganda is investing in agriculture.

“When you invest in infrastructure, you are supporting agriculture.”

He said government has an affirmative action to fight corruption in all parts of Uganda not isolating northern Uganda.

“We are on the path, we know where we are going. We are on the path to prosperity.”

Kasese Municipality MP Hon. Centenary, on the other hand, said if agriculture is Uganda’s backbone, it should stand out in terms of budget allocation.

“We need to put a lot of money in agriculture than embedding it in other sectors,” he noted.

According to Centenary, local manufacturers are not being supported but government is busy giving a waiver to foreign companies with a lot of net profit.

Mukunda an economic policy analyst, on his part, said it was wrong to put agriculture under every ministry when it comes to allocating funds.

“If we don’t raise our revenue internally, we shall remain a highly indebted country.”

He said almost every country in East Africa is giving an exemption, it is hard not to give exemptions to investors.

“There is a smart way to give tax exemptions to investors; we have to make them transparent.”

He said legislators set precedence of tax exemptions when they exempted themselves from paying taxes on their allowances, noting that “Ugandans shouldn’t lose hope, at least we are increasingly seeing openness in the budget”.

Democratic Party President, Mao, criticised government for its irresponsible borrowing.

“There is Irresponsible borrowing. We’re eating for our children. Oil money Bahati is talking about has already been eaten. If Ofwono went to UIA [Uganda Investment Authority] the way he is dressed with $1m and a white man went with $100K, Ofwono would be sidelined.”

Mao said tax exemption/holiday is not the only incentive, there are many incentives that can be given to investors.

Government spokesperson Opondo, in his defence, said the budget process of Uganda is increasingly becoming more transparent on all levels.