In this past Sunday evening's televised address on the current rise in commodity prices, many Ugandans were slapped in the face when President Museveni ruled out provision of subsidies and tax waivers.
The statement was in response to the rising prices of essential household commodities such as fuel, sugar, soap, cooking oil and food. These skyrocketing prices have been attributed to the surge in petroleum products and demand for other products such as wheat, amid global supply disruptions caused by the war in Ukraine.
Additionally, the President advised Ugandans to eat cassava, millet, maize and bananas as a substitute for bread.
Speaking to James Onen on The Fatboy Show, Steven Asiimwe the Chief Executive officer of the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), noted that the directives given by the President were reasonable and could benefit Ugandans.
“The President was speaking as a father. He was looking at the lack of wheat and the challenges regarding other imported food substances. If you look at it from a nutritional point of view, all of them (bread and cassava) are carbohydrates which can be produced locally. If you consume local products, you create a demand and an industry for the same and I think he had a very good point there,” Asiimwe explained.
He added that the impact of COVID-19 hit the supply chain which in turn disrupted shipping lines and flights hence affecting production. He added that countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, the largest producers of vegetable and palm oil, were hardly hit by the pandemic hence the low production and unsteady supply.
“Secondary to that is that Ukraine and Russia are the biggest exporters of fertilizer. Wheat production coupled with shipping lines being disrupted and the fact that it was going to take long to kickstart global economies had a knock-off effect on the global food supply chain systems and Uganda was not exempt,” he said.
The economist also explained that this is a global problem and advised Ugandans to generate mechanisms of surviving it.
However, as the Private sector, Asiimwe informed that they are in dialogue with the government. They have written proposals to the Committee of Economy in parliament and are requesting the government to not increase taxes but to issue out rebates to help resurrect the economy.
“We are saying that there are other ways of diversifying the tax base of the country. We have sent out a series of proposals, we've had advocacy meetings and held dialogues with the government and it feels as though we have ready answers to provide the government with because we need each other,” Asiimwe said in conclusion.
The Fatboy show is hosted by James Onen aka Fatboy, Olive and Sarah every weekday from 6am to 10am on RX Radio.