Covid-19 exposes our weak economy

Sunday March 29 2020

 

By Hussein Lumumba Amin

Let me state that coronavirus pandemic is live proof that whether the virus is a natural or a man-made cataclysm, not a single country on this planet, not even the strongest military in the world, is prepared for a biological attack on their population.

In Uganda, the tough economic conditions arising from coronavirus are starting to expose the weaknesses of depending on a colonial economic model for statistical economic growth.

A policy that Uganda has pursued for the last 40 years and which former president Idi Amin had attempted to correct by starting the true Uganda economy.

A colonial economy is based on elitism and preserving economic privileges, advantages and profits for expatriate ventures and convincing the local citizenry that getting meagre jobs in return is all there is.

The colonial economic model is also exploitative and thrives on profiteering. This is why prices have been hiked even when there is no real reason for the inflation.

Compared to countries like China and Europe who are suffering tremendous calamity from the pandemic yet all prices have remained stable, more so the prices for essential products.

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Now we face a situation where the vast majority of the population cannot stand a ‘stay at home’ order even for just one day.

The colonial economy means that the Ugandan population is largely the informal work force or members of the informal economy.

Even those with shops and offices operate under the terms and conditions of the informal sector. Citizens do not operate the major industries yet these are the backbone of any nation’s economy. And the captains of industry have no social motivations for the country and it’s people.

The vast majority of profits are whisked abroad to tax havens primarily so as to evade taxes, rather than being reinvested in the country. Evading taxes means taking advantage of all the privileges and contributing nothing in return.

Not even any contribution to the development of the country. Meanwhile the locals have no such privileges and, therefore, find themselves unable to abide by social distancing/stay at home directives, as they are unable to save or even be competitive against Foreign Direct Investment who in turn have no long term vested interests in seeing that wages of the local citizens are maintained or increased.

The defining moment will be at the recovery period at the end of the pandemic. We will then be able to see what springs back up and what remains in ruins. My guess is that the locals have no options but to rise again.

And no economy grows better, faster and more equitably than one which is largely owned by it’s own citizens who in a permanent revolving cycle are inclined to always re-invest in their own country’s economy.

Hussein Lumumba Amin,
husseinjuruga@gmail.com

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