Museveni offers no solution to rising commodity prices

Price tags on food items in a shop in Kampala last week. Food and other commodity prices have been on the rise in the last couple if months. PHOTO/MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

What you need to know:

  • Mr Museveni said government interventions by cutting taxes or subsidies would mislead the people to continue to consume without economising.

President Museveni has provided no short term solutions to the skyrocketing fuel and food prices that the country is grappling with, saying they would take a narrow path that would lead them to salvation. 

In a presidential address yesterday, President Museveni said government interventions by cutting taxes or subsidies would mislead the people to continue to consume without economising the commodities thus plugging the country into more trouble.

“Me as a rebel, when I see this situation and I say, we must migrate to something else, not subside…Because when we subside, people will continue buying more and more. You will create an artificial comfort to the people for them to think things are normal when they aren’t normal and you do that by bleeding yourself,” President Museveni said. 

The commodity prices have shot up and people can barely live within their income. A litre of petrol is at Shs6,600 from Shs3,800 a few months ago, while diesel is about Shs6,400 from Shs3,400 in the same period. Food prices have also increased as the dry spell batters most parts of the country. 

Mr Museveni said the subsidies will lead to the encroachment of the foreign reserves, which are $4b, and then create a situation similar to what is in Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, the country’s foreign reserves dropped because they couldn’t import fuel and other necessities, prompting protests and the fall of the government. 

He said it is better off buying commodities expensively than facing a shortage. 
“The taxes are there in order to develop. We want to make new roads. We want to make new projects. Now, because of that, the projects are stopped and money is spent on eating and driving,” he added.

Hours before Mr Museveni discouraged tax cuts and subsidies, his counterpart in Kenya, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, gave Kenyans the five stimulus package where he ordered a price ceiling on retailing of two kilogrammes of maize flour to UShs3,200. 

President Kenyatta also issued reduced prices of cooking gas for a 13 kilogrammes cylinder to Ushs96,000, and the six kilogrammes to UShs44,800. In Uganda, the cooking gas prices are higher by Shs20,00 on those two products above.

The Kenyan president also continued to give fuel subsidies to Kenyans. 
He also maintained a 15 percent reduction in electricity for households.

Surviving Covid-19

President Museveni narrated how he recently survived contracting the deadly Covid-19 while attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) in Rwanda.

The President attributed his survival to being fully vaccinated against the virus.

“I was in Kigali for the Commonwealth and in the Commonwealth spirit, I almost got corona because in the main meeting, I was very careful, I put on my mask, but when we went for a smaller meeting, I relaxed a bit and I removed the mask and I was sitting with Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of Britain and a man from Tuvalu, a small island with 12,000 people and the man had corona. I sat with him for almost one and a half hours,” he said.

“So when I came back and I went to Ntungamo, our home there and I self-isolated myself and they did rapid tests then. I quarantined myself like for four to five days and I had no problem. So this could be because of this vaccination. Definitely, I was sitting near this man and he even spoke, he didn’t cough but he spoke as part of the contribution but you find that I was not affected, why, for me I think it was because of the vaccination,” he added.

On the current update of Covid-19 infections in the country, the President revealed that there were only three patients in the hospitals as of Tuesday, with two being admitted at Mulago and one in Masaka.

He called upon the 4.9 million Ugandans who have not yet been vaccinated and also the 5.9 million Ugandans who have received only one dose to also go and get a second dose. 

He also revealed that the government is going to start vaccinating children aged between 12 and 17 during the forthcoming holiday period, but with the consent of their parents.

“I am informed that many of you have not been happy ever since we announced plans to vaccinate the bazzukulu (grandchildren) aged 12 and 17 years. As you have seen with this disease, it affects everyone, including the children. The problem with the children is that they can easily pick the virus from school and bring it back to their parents and grandparents, in addition, those with comorbidities die,” he added.

City killings 

In President Museveni’s address, he said they would hunt for the people who killed James Kakooza, a councillor in Kampala City, and a student, who was killed at Makerere University during the guild president elections last week. 

“ADF (Allied Democratic Forces rebels) thought they were in DR Congo and could kill our people with impunity. But I can assure you, they will be finished. The same goes to the killers of NRM councillor Kakooza, the ones who killed the UCU (Uganda Christian University) student and the killers of Masaka people,” he said.

“Security is now more capable than before. Ugandans have a reason to feel more secure. I appeal to courts to stop the liberalism of treating criminals with kids’ gloves.”