Fuente: The Observer
It's nearly next to impossible that Uganda will leapfrog into middle income status by 2020 as has been hyped by government, Finance minister Matia Kasaija has said.
President Yoweri Museveni has over the recent years boasted that Uganda was on course to achieve middle income status by 2020, because now it's no longer about resources availability but prioritisation.
According to Kasaija, there are a number of factors that have curtailed Uganda's quest for a lower middle income status, two of them being inability to execute key infrastructure projects and an increasing population that does not match economic growth.
"We’re on course, we’re definitely on course but whether we shall hit it by 2020 is a bit of challenge. There are two things that have happened. One, some of the projects that we wanted to implement, we have not implemented them for various reasons which I am not ready to disclose now. Two, the increase in population when it comes to getting that average of $900 per capita by 2020 could call for a challenge." Kasaija added.
The World Bank defines a lower middle-income economy as one with income per capita of between $1,006 and $3,955. Uganda's per capita income currently stands at $666 dollars - equivalent to just over Shs 2 million. In the East African Community, Uganda falls behind Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania in per capita income and other indicators of socio-economic development.
Minister Kasaija adds that delays in development of the oil and gas sector as well as the sluggishness of modernisation of agriculture have also affected the march to middle income status, although he insists that the country is on course.
"We have not moved fast on our oil for various reasons, modernisation of agriculture has not moved at the speed at which we wanted it so there’s a bit of a challenge. but as far as pursuing it." he added.
Development economist Dr Fred Muhumuza, in a telephone interview, says Uganda is definitely not ready to become a lower middle-income country nor at take-off stage because she's still struggling with debts, low revenue collection, low and unstable growth and, as he puts it, "a very very poor population".
Achieving lower middle status, with per capita income of over $1,000 underlined Museveni's re-election campaign in 2016.
From then on, the quest for middle income status became the mantra for government officials and official communication until now when the reality is dawning that that target is a tall order.