Uganda has attained middle income status, Ubos insists

Government says at least every Ugandan now earns an average of $1,046 per annum.  Photo | EDGAR R. BATTE

Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) has insisted that Uganda has attained middle income status. 

While addressing a media briefing yesterday, Dr Chris N. Mukiza, the Ubos executive director, said government data for the 2021/22 financial year indicates that gross domestic product per capita is estimated at $1,046, which is within the middle income threshold. 

On July 1, he said, the World Bank had released its economic update indicating that Uganda’s gross national income per capita for the 2020/21 financial was $840, which meant that the country had not crossed into the threshold for middle income status. 

“This created confusion among the general public,” Dr Mukiza said, adding: “The reference periods in the two reports is different. Whereas the report by government was based on the financial year 2021/22, the one by World Bank was based on the financial year 2020/21. Thus, the per capita income in the two reports refer to two different periods, the government of Uganda report being the most up to date.”

The press briefing, Dr Mukiza said, had come after a meeting between Ubos, World Bank, government and members of academia on Monday, in which it was noted that the differences arose mainly from national accounts aggregates, population figures, sources of data and reference period used.

Therefore, he said, the meeting had agreed to convene with immediate effect to harmonize the population projections and report back within one month, denoting up to-date population data after conclusion of the Uganda National and Housing Census scheduled for the September 2023.

“Going forward, Ubos should in addition to gross domestic product aggregates report the gross national income estimates. The World Bank should as much as possible use up to date figures for the financial year 2021/22 for comparison with government figures,” he said. 

Dr Mukiza further noted that at least 33.7 million Uganda are included in the calculation of the middle income status while 20.3 percent, who are below the poverty line or 10 million Ugandans are not included in the current calculations. 

Last week Daily Monitor highlighted the disparity in government and World Bank data after President Museveni had during the State of the Nation address announced that Uganda had attained the middle income status. 

“We are the experts of statistics. Users of statistics in Uganda can only come for clarifications. We are like lab technicians so there is no need for harmonising statistics with institutions such as the World Bank because we are the experts,” he said.

Dr Mukiza also noted that there is no country in the world which does not base statistics on estimates, noting that: “When you go to UK, US, Australia, South Africa everybody is using estimates, there is no official statistical figures.”  

The World Bank country office could not comment on current development, noting that they will come up with an official position at a later date.

What boss says          

The estimates for gross national income per capita, which is the gross domestic product adjusted for net primary income, released by the World Bank are consistent with government estimates.

The reference periods in the two reports is different. Whereas the report by government was based on the financial year 2021/22, the one by World Bank was based on the financial year 2020/21. Thus, the per capita income in the two reports refer to two different periods, the   government report being the most up to date.

The World Bank used the UN population projection for Uganda for driving gross national income per capita. The UN mid-year population projection for the 2020/21 financial year 47.1 million. 

However, government’s official population projection for the same period is 42.4 million, resulting into a difference of 4.7 million people.

Government’s official estimates of gross domestic product per capita for the 2021/22 financial year is $1,046. The World Bank does not at this point have any projection for gross national income per capita for the 2021/22 financial year, as the gross national income per capita estimates released by the World Bank are for the 2020/21 financial year.

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