Museveni: NRM govt. is unstoppable, not even Coronavirus could bring us down

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By President Yoweri Museveni
When this global crisis, descended on the World, I started hearing screams of pessimism coming from all sorts of sources. Immediately, I authored documents about the “Real Economy”, as well as the “Vulnerable Economy”.
Nevertheless, to have a firm economy, we must go back to the Bible, in the Book of Matthew, Chapter 7 Verses 26-27. It talks of a foolish man that built his house on sand. The rain came down, the floods came and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell ─ and great was its fall”.

It is now 78 days since the lockdown we launched on the 18th of March, 2020, in response to the pandemic of the corona-virus. In that lockdown, we stopped all international passenger flights into and out of Uganda, the tourists are no longer coming, foreign investors are not coming, the Ugandans abroad are, may be, sending less money to their relatives because they are also facing problems where they are, etc.
However, Uganda is still standing and coping with the virus, the floods, the landslides, the locusts, the floating islands, the security of the country, the crime, feeding millions of our people, etc.
Why? It is on account of some of the few of our ideas that we have managed to implement, in spite of the endless opposition that we always face.
We have built a strong Army; we have built a powerful LC system, the fact that it is not well facilitated financially notwithstanding; we have surplus electricity; we have a good road network of tarmac roads, we have a lot of agricultural products for food security and for commerce.
Apart from feeding us, these agricultural products end up by earning for us $2,005m (49% of total merchandise exports) if we take the year 2019. Even in this lockdown, since March, the following agricultural products: Coffee, Tea, Fish, Maize earned us millions of dollars.
Our agriculture is, therefore, not only feeding us almost 100%, but also earning dollars for us.
Our correct policy on the private sector, the corruption and obstruction of many of our public servants notwithstanding, has also attracted a total of 5,200 factories.

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These are producing: cement, steel bars, soap, mattresses, mabaati, sugar, cooking oil, rubber tyres, textiles, beverages, beers, etc., that bring in a total of $2.09 bn. This sector is ready for even a qualitative change by starting manufacturing buses, mini-buses, pick-ups, small cars, bicycles, etc.
The ICT sector is a growing one, employing 1,282,818 persons with 380,896 companies engaged in information technology, telecommunications, broadcasting, postal and courier and audio visual. Therefore, these are the sectors of the economy that will not easily collapse because of the corona-virus.
The son of Mr. Warren Buffet, whom they claim to be the 2nd richest man in the World, came to visit me at Kisozi. I asked him how many cattle his father had. He told me that he did not own any cattle, but owned railways, etc!! I had never seen a rich man without cattle and land and I told him so. Recently, I saw some people trying to get rid of shares in the Airline companies as hot potatoes because of the corona-virus pandemic. My farm-based wealth, land on which the farming takes place, are going nowhere. They were here yesterday, today and tomorrow.
In spite of the obstructions by the neo-colonial actors and foreign backers, Uganda is able to stand up today and weather this storm because of the correct actions we took. The vulnerable portions of the economy, have collapsed. However, the real economy is standing up and expanding, especially in agriculture and industry.
The Import Bill of Uganda is normally $7bn per year
When you look through this list, you see that there is no reason why we should import many of these items: medicines, textiles, leather products, industrial sugar for use by coca-cola, industrial starch for use by the Pharmaceutical Industries, paper, packaging materials, glass products, automobiles, bicycles, etc., etc. Many of these can and will be made here.
Most of what we have said above is the implementation of the point no. 5 of the NRM 10 Points programme: “building an economy that is independent, integrated and self-sustaining”. Have we not sustained ourselves in this crisis or in a bunch of crises: corona-virus, locusts, rising waters of the Lakes, floods, landslides or floating islands? Much of what we said above, is the partial integration between agriculture and industry. Our plan is to intensify, broaden and fully take advantage of that integration to fill all the unnecessary gaps

We are lucky because we have everything: agriculture that produces so many products; entrepreneurial classes that can process all and every agricultural product using appropriate factories; electricity and other infrastructure elements that assist processing; a large, educated, young population that can run modern economies; a big regional market created by the African Pan

We built a Gold Refinery at Entebbe. The refinery is earning $1.256billion per annum. Now that gold is being refined here, Madam Nakyobe, using my small innovation fund, should start to teach some of the grand-children the skills of jewellery. The rich Ugandan ladies will be able to buy the gold jewellery made here instead of squandering money buying the same from distant sources. We already have a good ceramics’ industry at Kapeeka, making ceramic tiles, saving $28.5million in imports and also bringing in $3.05millions earned from exports. These ceramic tiles are from our clay. When the copper mining resumes at Kilembe, that sector will be linked to the making of cables for electricity, transformers for electricity, etc., rather than what was happening in the 1950s and 1960s when the copper would only be processed to 94% purity (blister copper), that could only be exported as a semi-processed raw-material. It could not be used in our cables’ industry.
Having fully exploited our mineral wealth, by linking minerals with industries, with the real economy, that leaves the wealth based on the human brain and human skills in the form of IT knowledge, engineering, etc. With our educated population, literacy rate of 75%, this is now a real opportunity.

Our scientists, in particular, apart from being active in the agro-based industries of starch, processed fruits, dairy products, etc., they have also moved into engineering of designing and fabricating automobiles, the bio-chemistry of vaccines, etc. Besides, the private sector is also active in import substitution by assembling computers, TV-sets, mobile phones, radio-sets, etc., here.
How will all this be funded? Some of the funding is FDI, mainly from our Chinese and Indian friends. Alot of new factories are coming up funded in this way. The recent examples of these are: Simi factory ─ mobile phones and radios; Saachi factory ─ TVs, flat irons, radios; Goodwill factory ─ ceramics; etc.
With the Ugandan entrepreneurs, the Government has put Uganda shillings 1,040.5billions in the (Uganda Development Bank (UDB) to give low interest loans to anybody that wants to go into manufacturing and, may be, commercial agriculture.

Some of those funds will be modified to deal with the categories of our people that have been affected by the lockdown. Those affected, include: the boda-boda riders, the salon operators, the bars people, the nightclubs people, the artists, etc. These funds can be used, at low interest, for these categories of our people to, possibly, do other activities. A team from Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) has looked at the budget and suggested ways of savings that can save as much as Shs. 5 trillion from the budget that can do all those efforts mentioned above.
Besides, the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development is proposing the following measures, to provide liquidity to private firms that have been affected by the COVI-19 Lockdown:
(i) Allow corporations including small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to delay payment of corporation tax or presumptive tax for taxes due between April and June 2020 and for tourism, manufacturing, horticulture and floriculture to defer until September 2020;
(ii) Defer payment of Pay-As-You Earn (PAYE) tax by those sectors which are most affected until September 2020;
(iii) Waiver of interest on tax arrears;
(iv) Support to water and electricity utilities in order to ensure continued supply of these essential services to consumers during the period April to June 2020;
(v) Expedite payment of outstanding VAT refunds;
(vi) Payment of domestic arrears for goods and services supplied to Government by the private sector;
(vii) For those unable to pay their loans, Government through the Bank of Uganda has already put in the gazette the measures to support businesses; including allowing extension of repayment periods, postponement of loan repayment for a limited period, relaxing the conditions for non-performing loans, reduction of reserve funds commercial banks are required to keep with Bank of Uganda and creating a special liquidity facility to rescue businesses that are not able to meet operational costs due to low demand or reduced production due to COVID-19;
(iii) Capitalisation of Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) with Ug Shs. 100 billion to enable Government to invest in strategic areas;

(ix) Boosting funding to Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) in FY 2020/21 to continue with innovation research and incubation of business startups.
(xi) Provision of additional UGX 300 billion immediately to boost agricultural production and productivity for seedlings, fertilizers, irrigation, storage facilities and value addition. The target crops are coffee, cotton, tea, palm oil and other oil seeds, cassava, maize, cocoa and dairy, beef, and fish production.
All these efforts will be much easier when our Government scientists are paid well. They will be able to contribute to the economy without being distracted of having to survive when it comes to the basics of life. Our scientists must be paid at a level comparable to international standards, but of course, taking into account our low cost of living. .
The Government will not allow the landlords evicting tenants on account of not paying rent. Discussions have started with both groups and a solution will be found.
Food distribution for the genuine groups will continue until the problem is over. Nevertheless, many families in Uganda do not need free food; they just need seeds and low interest money for borrowing and markets for their products. These measures will deal with the deepening and expansion of the Real Economy.
I thank you and wish you good luck.

Editor’s note: A heavily edited State of the Nation Address By H.E. Yoweri Museveni // State House Entebbe ///4th June, 2020

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