Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why the GOU and 2016 elections can fuck themselves (Numbers don't lie)

My major grievance with the national budget 2014/15 is that its exclusively targets the poor and middle class population who constitute the majority of the country. For example, a service like Mobile money, which has encouraged monetary transaction for the unbanked sector has been levied a 10% tax per transaction. Which means sending Ugx 50,000/= will cost 5,000/=. This is an exorbitant fee for a service that is making banking available to low income earners. This isn't only bad news for the population but also the agents whose profit margin profit has been on the decline due to market saturation. 
If the ten percent is levied, it will exponentially reduce the number of transactions per individual, directly affecting the profit margins for agents, consequently forcing them out of the market which reduces the number of agents per constituency and eventually making mobile money as less accessible as banks.

Perhaps the most worrying tax increment is on kerosene, hoes and seeds. In rural Uganda, kerosene is a basic commodity for among its many uses power local;y made lamps (tadoba) to provide household with light at night . Increasing its cost by a few shillings means that a family in Arua may have to ration lamp usage at night, a hard reality. 

On the other hand, I would be more comfortable if the cost of cooking gas increased since it is consumed by the affluent population who would still purchase it even if the price increased. The taxation of hoes and seedlings is just inhuman, given the same local population practice subsistence farming; they eat what they plant and taxes on the tools is just absurd. Publications have emphasised the need for Uganda to focus on Agriculture, how are we achieving this if we are making it more expensive for a farmer to plow their land?

The main problem the government of Uganda has is it funds the budget solely from taxes and grants because it sold all its state owned franchises like Uganda railways and Air Uganda that would have otherwise brought in extra income to supplement tax revenues. It seems announcement of the national budget has come to knowing which areas taxes have been increased, as opposed to presentation of strategic approaches of how government is investing and making money from other ventures. 

The final blow came when America announced withdraw of Aid and grants amounting to over Shs. 20 billion over the anti-gay bill signed by the president earlier this year. Much as homosexuality is not a practice we as a country  support, it was not a matter of national interest but rather an interest of a handful of politicians seeking support for re-election in 2016. We were told that we do not need foreign Aid and that we could fund the budget ourselves. Well now, numbers do not lie do they? 
Effectiveness of foreign aid over the years could be debated, but we also cannot deny that it has had its impacts on healthcare and education especially in rural Uganda where our government has neglected its mandate to its own people prompting intervention of other governments (embarrassing).

Herein lies Uganda's major problem; politicization. In anyone's right mind, a sex bill is the last thing our country needed when we have failed to implement basic healthcare and education reforms. We still don't have a national birth database! Everything is political now and if a notion does not serve the political interest of a handful, it is not of "national interest." 

But I do not blame the government as much. I blame the individual bureaucrats  who portray behaviors of greedy spoilt rich kids who expect lunch on a silver plate without having to work for it, at the cost of the common man who is taxed to the eyeball. I hope that the coming generation will teach their children to save and invest so that when they are elected to government offices, they will value the importance of hard work, saving and investment.

I cringe at the thought of an election two years from now and for the record, I care less what the government or opposition have to say or do. I am just trying to make an honest living, raise a family and be happy. Being Ugandan is waking up everyday knowing that you have been fucked over and screwed so bad that its worthless to give a shit. All I ask politicians is to keep the ordinary man out of their petty egocentric fights. "Tuli bakowu."

My 2016 prediction; the opposition will loose at the polls, the government will spend trillions funding the exercise causing high rates of inflation, prompting the central bank to increase taxes in the economy to reduce public expenditure. But really, who are we fooling?

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