Many Ugandans think oil cash won’t help
Posted Friday, March 30 2012 at 00:00
A majority of Ugandans are sceptical about the extent to which revenue from the country’s nascent oil sector will benefit ordinary citizens when extraction and the flow of oil wealth begins, findings of the latest Afrobarometer Survey show.
The revelation is yet another less positive sentiment held by ordinary Ugandans who have since expressed pessimistic predictions in the survey about the future of this country’s economy and the government’s ability to right what has gone wrong.
Of 2,400 citizens asked to say how much of the oil revenue they think will be used by government for the benefit of all Ugandans, a miserable 11 per cent predicted that all or most of the revenue will be used to the benefit of all Ugandans.
However, more than five in every 10 Ugandans said they feel most of the oil revenue will not be devoted to the public good. A combined total of 54 per cent of respondents said they think government would use oil revenues “only a little” and “some of it” for the benefit of all Ugandans, while 23 per cent said “none of it” and 12 per cent said they “don’t know.”
Uganda is believed to have oil reserves of up to 2.5 billion barrels in the Albertine Graben, up from 300 million barrels recorded in 2006. Analysts have said with the current pace of drilling and recent finds, Uganda could be producing around 150,000 barrels of oil per day by 2015, a development that would see the country ranked among the world’s top 50 oil producing nations.
Government, however, is yet to make good on a pledge of establishing an oil revenue fund to manage money that accrues from the valuable resource and is only in the process of putting in place appropriate legal framework to govern the sector.
Last month, two crucial Bills on petroleum exploration, development, production, refining and gas processing were tabled in Parliament but a third key law on management of public finance, including oil, is yet to be tabled.
The government has received substantial amount of revenue from the oil sector, about Shs1.2 trllion last financial year following sale deals between oil exploration companies, of which Shs828 billion was allocated to the Karuma Hydropower project. Reading the 2011/2012 budget, Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka asserted that government would use oil revenue to “generate further growth and employment throughout all sectors of the economy.”
However, the predictions on oil wealth align with the generally negative sentiments Ugandans have expressed in the Afrobarometer Round 5 Survey, which was conducted in partnership with Wilsken Agencies Ltd and the Centre for Democratic Governance between December 2011 and February 2012.
According to the research findings which this newspaper has serialised since Monday, up to 51 per cent of Ugandans expect to be personally worse off in the next 12 months while 55 per cent said they expected the economy to be worse.
The research also revealed that government approval ratings have plummeted to 26 per cent barely a year after Mr Museveni’s resounding 2011 68 per cent election victory, with respondents citing spiralling inflation, government reckless and wasteful spending and the failure to create jobs for thousands of Uganda’s unemployed citizens as some of the reasons to hand the State negative rankings.