Economic Expectations: Ugandans Seek Clarity on Mammoth 72 Trillion Shilling Budget

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Economic Expectations: Ugandans Seek Clarity on Mammoth 72 Trillion Shilling Budget
President Museveni

With President Yoweri Museveni's State of the Nation Address looming, Uganda's economic sector is buzzing with concerns. The central issue? The gargantuan 72 trillion shilling national budget for 2023/2024, a figure sparking debate and anxiety amidst ongoing economic struggles.

Key players in the business community and economic think tanks are voicing their anxieties, seeking clear answers from the President on how this hefty budget will be financed. The national budget has become a point of intense scrutiny, particularly considering the current economic strain. This year has witnessed a surge in protests by businesses frustrated by rising taxes and economic hardship. The 72 trillion shilling behemoth, recently passed by Parliament, only intensifies these concerns.

Sarah Kajingo, Vice Chairperson of the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), highlights the plight of struggling traders. "They're scraping by to pay taxes, only to fear it's lost to corruption. The government's tax policies are suffocating businesses. We need a concrete plan on how this budget will ease these burdens," she emphasizes.

A major concern is the substantial chunk of the budget allocated to debt servicing. Uganda is poised to spend a staggering 32 trillion shillings on debt repayment in the upcoming financial year. Additionally, the government plans to borrow a further 31 trillion shillings to finance the budget, while the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) is expected to collect the same amount.

Christine Byiringiro, Programme Manager at the Uganda Debt Network (UDN), expresses wariness. "This heavy reliance on borrowing raises serious sustainability concerns. We need the government's long-term strategy for managing this debt and ensuring economic stability," Byiringiro cautions.

As Ugandans wait with bated breath for President Museveni's address, the fervent hope is for a comprehensive response outlining a clear path towards economic recovery and long-term sustainability. Businesses, economic experts, and citizens alike yearn for reassurances that the government has a viable plan to navigate these daunting fiscal challenges.

Paul Lakuma, a research fellow at the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC), underscores the critical need for transparency and accountability in the government's financial plans. "Many questions remain about how the country will meet this budget. The President must provide a detailed explanation on how the government intends to manage its finances, especially considering the economic hardships we face," Lakuma stresses.

The upcoming State of the Nation Address presents a pivotal opportunity for President Museveni to address these pressing economic issues. He must outline the steps the government will take to support the economy and fulfil the ambitious yet concerning 72 trillion shilling budget. As the President prepares to speak, all eyes are fixed on him, eager for clear and convincing answers to these critical economic questions.

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