Finance raises red flag over high population growth rate

People carry out business in downtown Kampala in 2021. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • On employment, the ministry says the National Labour Force Survey carried out in 2021 revealed that the working age population (14-64 years) was estimated at nearly 23 million of the total population with more females (52 percent) than males (48 percent).

The government has expressed worry that high population growth rate is exerting a lot of pressure on the economy to boost quality services and employment. 

In the Budget Framework Paper for FY2023/2024, the Ministry of Finance said the population has sharply grown from 15 million in 1986 to 43.7 million people today with a growth rate of 3.2 percent and a life expectancy of 64.7 years (Ubos 2022).

It attributes the growth to provision of improved access to quality social services, peace, and security, among others.

“The rising population, however, is exerting pressure on the government’s capacity to provide the required quality social services for all as well as employment opportunities. Therefore, we need policy action to sustain the quality and scope of services to ensure an economically active and productive population,” the ministry states.

According to the government, the expenditure and net lending in FY2023/2024 are projected to amount to Shs37.2 trillion. This is slightly less than Shs37.4 trillion in the approved budget of FY 2022/2023.

“Over the medium term, current expenditures will average 10.8 percent of GDP while development expenditures will average 8.5 percent of GDP,” the framework paper states.

On employment, the ministry says the National Labour Force Survey carried out in 2021 revealed that the working age population (14-64 years) was estimated at nearly 23 million of the total population with more females (52 percent) than males (48 percent).

Among the working age population, 87 percent (20 million) were working, including other subsistence work.

About 40.2 percent of the working population was in subsistence agricultural work, an increase from 39.9 percent according to the Uganda National Household Survey (UNHS) 2019/2020.

The 2019/2020 UNHS and the National Labour Force Survey of 2021 show a shift in proportion of the working population from agriculture to industry and services sectors.

The proportion of the working population employed in agriculture reduced from 68.1 percent to 61.4 percent while it increased to 13.4 percent and 24.8 percent from 7.2 percent and 23.9 percent in industry and services, respectively.

However, in the budget framework, the ministry said the National Development Plan (NDP) III has a key focus of attaining sustainable industrialisation for inclusive growth, employment, and sustainable wealth creation.

The government said this will be through focusing on expenditure on interventions that have high multiplier effects on the economy, import replacement and export promotion, job creation, enhance domestic revenue mobilisation and public debt management, among others.

The framework paper also takes into consideration the NDP III, the Charter for Fiscal Responsibility, and requirements of Gender and Equity Responsiveness and balanced development.

Human Capital Development comprises three sub-programmes which include health, education and water for human consumption.

According to the ministry of Finance, the health sub-programme aims at migrating the population from a predominantly curative healthcare system to preventive healthcare through promoting systems.

This will involve addressing staffing gaps at all levels of service delivery,  timely supplies of drugs to address stock-outs as well as provision of relevant medical equipment operationalising Mulago Super specialised Hospital and other health facilities.

The government will also pilot the community health extension workers strategy to shift from a predominantly curative disease-oriented healthcare system to a preventive one. It will also include strengthening the regional technical supervisory structures.

education, water programmes

Under the education sub-programme,   the government will focus on developing a complete National Vocational Qualifications Framework, promote  Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM/STEI), research, and incubation to transform it into goods and services for national growth and societal well-being .

The government will also enhance the capacity of skilling institutions to cope with the growing demands of the world of work.

Other strategies are improved data management and evidence-based planning, an upgrade of EMIS to include tracking enrollment, dropout, and retention, and uniquely identifying learners, teachers, and institutions.

The Finance ministry also intends to increase the uptake of the digitalisation strategy through roll-out and maintenance of systems such as teacher effectiveness and learners’ achievements system (TELA), E-inspection, Teacher Management Information System (TMIS), and e-learning

It will also improve the overall staffing level, ensure infrastructure development and equipment of medical schools to meet international accreditation

Water sub-programme: The government will focus on improving access to safe and clean water for human consumption as well as sanitation in both rural and urban areas.

This will be implemented through construction and expansion of large, medium and small piped water systems in urban and rural growth centres as well as rehabilitation and maintenance of piped water systems.

The government will also strengthen and integrate water user committees, construct public and community sanitation facilities, and promote motorised water supply systems through construction of solar-powered schemes.