Ugandan president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has finally conceded that Uganda is not yet a middle-income country. In an interview with WION, an Indian multinational English news channel headquartered in New Delhi, the president said,
“I didn’t say we have already become, I said we are entering.”
Museveni who has led the country since 1986 explained to WION’s Global Leadership Series that he was wrongly heard and that the figures could have been misquoted.
The president’s recission came just a few days after he trashed a World Bank report whose position was that that Uganda was still a low-income country and that the effects of the Covid19 pandemic had slowed economic growth diminishing expectations of Uganda soon attaining the much sought-after middle-income status. It is because of this that there have been exchanges between Government of Uganda and World Bank over the past few weeks.
SecretsKnown published an article last week that assessed Uganda’s middle-income nation or not. The article clearly explained the World Bank’s official yardstick for measuring income status of a country being Gross Domestic Income (GNI) yet Uganda stubbornly insists on using Gross Domestic Product (GDP). For a country to be declared lower middle-income status, it must have obtained a minimum per capita of $1,036 (UGX 3.93 million).
This U-turn by President Museveni in regard to Uganda’s middle-income status has left many Ugandans puzzled and questioning the inconsistency by government of Uganda and credibility of the bureau of statistics.
Even though the president contends that he only said Uganda is not yet in the middle-income status and is just entering, SecretsKnown clearly remembers his remarks during the State nation address early last month where he said;
“The entrance points for the lower-middle-income status, is $1036. We have now passed that figure. Congratulations!”
SecretsKnown also vividly recalls early last month during the budget reading when the president questioned why Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija evaded pronouncing the country as a middle-income nation in his speech. President Museveni also claimed that the country had achieved the status due to the National Resistance Movement’s efforts.
Even after President Museveni’s almost 4-decade rule, more than 28% of the country’s population is still languishing in utter poverty and Uganda remains among the poorest nations in the world.
In a survey conducted by SecretsKnown, majority of the respondents did not feel that they were in middle income status and admitted that they were utterly shocked by the president’s pronouncements.
Backed by Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), President Museveni earlier on dismissed World Bank data and questioned the financial institution’s source of information. UBOS defended Museveni’s position saying the World Bank report was based on outdated data.
SecretsKnown wonders why the president would come out openly to pronounce that the country had entered middle-income status and a month later profusely deny ever saying that. Is it safe to say that the president was misled by the statistics provided to him by the bureau of Statistics?
Mushime Moses, an Economist and lawyer however refutes that the president was misled. According to him, the claims by the president country were a political stunt to prove to the citizenry that the NRM government is working just like he stated in his budget reading speech.
Mr. Mushime also believes that government of Uganda was trying to demonstrate to financial institutions like IMF and the World Bank that the economy has grown for substantial loans.
Perhaps the inconsistency by the president could be a consequence of old age. Or is he conceding to the imperial powers just like he did in 2001 when he moved on to the movement system when the imperial north declined to accept the movement system as a form of democracy?