Mbale locals challenge BOU's "rosy" inflation picture

Mbale locals challenge BOU's "rosy" inflation picture
BOU deputy governor Atingi-Ego

Mbale city residents  have voiced their discontent with the Central Bank's inflation statistics during a recent town hall meeting at Courts View Hotel.

Protesters argued that the presented data did not accurately reflect the harsh realities of the high cost of living they experience daily.

While delivering a key note address, Deputy Governor Michael Atingi-Ego highlighted the Central Bank's efforts to stabilize the value of the Uganda shilling post-COVID, amidst challenges like prolonged drought and limited external funding.

"We are trying to preserve the value of the Uganda shilling by ensuring that inflation does not erode the value, your purchasing power," Atingi-Ego said.

However, the public push-back was evident as attendees questioned the credibility of the Central Bank's statistics.

"As a lay Ugandan, I don’t see that happening because every other day we see prices fluctuating," Ronald Gimei said.

Rogers Wandulu, a resident of Mbale city, expressed frustration, saying, "These days you can’t even get cassava for shs1000."

The Deputy Governor countered, stating that the rate of price increase had slowed from 10.7% last year to 2%, against the projected 5% inflation rate per annum.

One factor contributing to price stability, as per the Central Bank, is a stable exchange rate.

The Uganda shilling's appreciation against the Kenyan Shilling is cited as evidence, trading at 1:24.7 compared to 1:32 in 2022, attributed to Uganda’s improving economic fundamentals, increased foreign investment, and robust exports.

Local businesses, however, contested this narrative.

Kooba Vincent, a grocery shop owner, pointed to fluctuating commodity prices, attributing them to an artificial supply deficit by local manufacturers.

He noted that imported commodities are often cheaper than locally manufactured ones.

Beyond monetary policy, external factors play a significant role in price stability.

Weather conditions, pests, and natural disasters impact agriculture production, while trade policies and global commodity price fluctuations indirectly influence domestic prices.

Protesters called for a more accurate reflection of these factors in the Central Bank's assessments.

In response to the concerns raised, the Deputy Governor acknowledged the challenges but urged citizens to consider the broader economic context.

The public outcry in Mbale underscores the ongoing tension between official economic indicators and the lived experiences of citizens grappling with the complexities of the cost of living

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