Can’t Uganda rig figures and enter ‘middle income’?

Author: Alan Tacca. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • The World Bank is wasting time where there really is no dispute.  

The World Bank has a problem. Actually, two problems. One, it cannot distinguish between a Uganda carrying on like a medieval village and a Uganda pretending to be a 21st Century nation. Secondly, the World Bank probably assumes that some Ugandans believed President Museveni’s recent claim that Uganda had attained middle income status; hence a need to set the record straight.

READ- Middle income:World Bank sticks by its data

The Bank is wasting time where there really is no dispute. What you have are two camps of Ugandans essentially having fun.

The first camp does not believe Museveni’s ‘middle income’ claim, and it is relieving some of its stress in these hard times by arguing why Uganda is still crawling in low income dust.

The second camp also does not believe Museveni’s claim. But this camp includes fanatical ruling party members, civil servants in ‘sensitive’ positions, and all sorts of special beneficiaries under Museveni’s rule.

These people feel an obligation to argue with all their might to demonstrate that Museveni’s claim was correct. They are the cerebral equivalents of bodyguards. They lay down their brains to save the President.

I have heard Finance minister Matia Kasaija argue (on Simba Radio) that the World Bank cannot have more accurate figures than Uganda’s institutions.

On CBS, I have heard one RDC Burora arguing that: Uganda has very many people below the working age. If you remove these people from the statistics (presumably without executing them!) a middle income figure per capita will appear. It was something like that.

Anyone can see that Kasaija and Burora were just having fun, fighting tooth and nail, but also amusing themselves and entertaining their audiences. You can only get angry with them if you also sometimes get angry with dolls.

In a nutshell, once everybody agrees that Uganda has not yet entered the middle income bracket, the debate about President Museveni’s claim is the gap between a medieval slave-and-master mindset and the 21st century.

Having said that, we cannot wish away the World Bank’s lugezigezi, or their kajanja. Therefore, being a sovereign nation, why don’t we invent a balloon of economic muscle: something really big, armed with which the World Bank or any other foreign pest just cannot harass us with alternative accounts and win?

Make Idi Amin our mentor; his ghost. When Ugandan boxers complained that foreign referees did not judge their ring performances fairly, Amin told them to defeat their adversaries by knockout. Why not knock out poverty?

With a minister hauling in more than Shs30m a month, and our army generals at Shs15m so all of them can now have serious birthday parties, what is the magic about this miserable lower middle income number of $1,086 per annum that the World Bank is croaking about? Double it!

Set up an Independent Middle Income Commission. Select one of our trusted cadres from the Electoral Commission to head it. Rally our boys and girls who collect data for Ubos. Declare our population 20 million. Appoint another cadre like Burora as Bank of Uganda Governor. Kick Finance ministry software wizards and data inventors into battle gear. Do you understand? Create independent statistics that return an income per capita of $2,172. The medieval village and the modern State will thus be reconciled.

Finally, return to barter trade with friendly countries such as Cuba and Iran and make nonsensical the World Bank’s nose-poking into our foreign exchange earnings. If you hear the Bank croaking again, I swear, I will not be me.

Mr Alan Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.
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