Stakeholders Discuss the State of Uganda’s Economy
In a bid to conscientize and propagate alternative development ideals based on social justice, SEATINI Uganda under the Equator School for Alternative Development Model organized a a public dialogue on the State of Uganda’s Economy.
The public dialogue and book launch held on 13th May 2022, brought together over 150 stakeholders including academicians, researchers, representatives from Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Members of Parliament, religious and cultural leaders, youth, media among others to discuss the state of Uganda’s economy and offer proposals towards the quest for alternative development models.
Prof Samwiri Lwanga Lunyiigo’s book puts the spotlight on Uganda’s history and its implications for contemporary economic development.
While giving a presentation on the context of the book, Prof. Samwiri Lwanga Lunyiigo, a Professor of History revealed that his book titled; Uganda an Indian Colony, is essentially about what Indian colonialism did to us.
Prof Samwiri Lwanga Lunyiigo reiterated that today, natives are mere spectators with regard to the economy. Government brings in all sorts of investors and we are spectators.
‘‘Uganda’s elite class especially the economists are not coming up with alternative development models but rather have become proponents of the neoliberal paradigm and its economic policy prescriptions,’’ Prof Samwiri Lwanga Lunyiigo said.
As part of his remarks, Prof Samwiri Lwanga Lunyiigo noted that colonialism in Uganda was a partnership between Indians and the British. There was exploitation that caused resistance and pushback. The foundations of Indians’ exploitation of Uganda were arranged around 1900. The Rupee came in as a currency from 1900 to 1920, Uganda was in the Indian Orbit and this is the time when cotton was being grown. For almost twenty years, Uganda was in the Indian currency zone and the Indians exploited this situation.
In his book, Prof Lwanga-Lunyiigo highlights how the Indians who were just one percent of the then 8 million people who lived in Uganda controlled the 75 percent of the economy but only paid 5.4 percent in taxes and after all the profits were repatriated without investing it in Uganda. He points out that between 1955 and 1972 there was an outflow of capital from Uganda averaging around £12 million a year reaching a peak of £17.2 in 1958. The Indians who had made a fortune preferred to send their earnings out of Uganda rather than reinvesting yet there was an acute shortage of development funds in East Africa.
Hon. Nathan Nandala Mafabi, Member of Parliament Budadiri West and the Chairperson of Bugisu Cooperative Union who was also the Guest of Honour during the book launch noted that under British colonial rule, the Indians were paying some taxes but today there are ripping the country without returning anything as they are given tax holidays, land concessions and repatriating profits out of Uganda as they used to do back in days.
Ms Jane Nalunga, the Executive Director at SEATINI Uganda commended Prof Samwiri Lwanga Lunyiigo for writing such an illuminating book that focuses on the economy. She noted that this book comes at a time when there is need to rethink the economy.
Ms Agnes Kirabo, the Executive Director of Food Rights Alliance observed that Indians still remain the major movers and shakers in Uganda’s economy today.
Overall, the public dialogue provided a platform for various stakeholders to interrogate the State of Uganda’s economy and offer proposals towards achieving Uganda’s Economic Independence.