Last year, shortly after Uganda’s National Budget for our current financial year 2014/2015 was published, I wrote a blog post in which I surmised that our Country’s budget was a recipe for food insecurity https://nowaraga.wordpress.com/2014/07/27/ugandas-20142015-budget-is-a-recipie-for-food-and-nutrition-insecurity/. Sadly, with about three months remaining till the end of our current financial year, which ends in June, I am vindicated.
Recently, I was at our ancestral home at my Alinga Farms in Pallisa in Eastern Uganda and I noted how the situation of my people has worsened. They are in a desperate state. Unfortunately, the rains expected in early March are yet to come and so the sun is scorching hot; making the situation even worse. Many families are surviving on only one meal a day – mostly consisting of eating lilies from swamps. The lilies have been nicknamed odaku amuro (lift a thigh), erinyot, etc.
How, some may be asking, can one possibly suggest that a budget can cause famine? Well, there are precedents in other parts of the world were famines have been caused because of greed which fuels exploitation of a country’s natural resources for the financial gain of a few or others http://yourstory.com/2014/08/bengal-famine-genocide/. Exploitation can take the form of a heavy tax burden or a tax regime which diverts resources from food production to other things such as buying tear gas for maintenance of law and order, for example.
Many of our people were forced to sell food items in order to meet school fees – including scholastic materials, even for their children who are attending schools supported by the government under Universal Primary Education. They were forced to sell food items in order to meet medical bills, etc.; meaning that their food stocks were quickly diminished. No wonder, after all, fees went up for everything – in order to accommodate excise duty, charges on mobile money transfers, and other indirect taxes that were imposed as part of the NRM administration’s strategy to generate revenue for implementing government programmes.