President Yoweri Museveni has said that as Uganda joins the rest of the world to celebrate International Labour Day, the country’s focus should be more on how to create enough jobs for all Ugandans as opposed to discussing the welfare and enhanced remuneration of the few employed Ugandans.
Speaking at Namutumba ceremonial grounds in Namutumba District where a national celebration to mark the International Labour Day were held this afternoon, President Museveni noted that whereas the welfare and remuneration of the workers are important, the need to create more jobs and do away with unemployment was more of the concern of the government and the country as only a small fraction of 10 million people where employed while the rest of the population was unemployed.
The President therefore asked all citizens to support the government programs that are focused on job and wealth creation such as the Parish Development Model which he said will help generate enough jobs for the entire population.
“If we seriously implement the Parish Development Model, we shall generate 70 million jobs in the 7 million homesteads across the country through modern agriculture alone. The colonialist created enough jobs for Ugandans and even imported labor from neighboring countries by introducing cash crops in pre-independence Uganda,” the President noted.
The President however noted that there were two major hindrances to the country’s development agenda, singling out the “corrupt political class and civil service” who either demand bribes or delay the decision-making process which he said increases the cost of doing business in the country.
He however warned that he was going to take strong action against the corrupt and errant civil servants and politicians adding that he was to put up a special office in his office where the public could directly report government officials who are either demanding bribes or delaying the decision-making process.
“We are going to have a big fight with the corrupt. I don’t want you to fall victim to this negative vice. Let’s join hands and fight corruption and be part of the future of the new Africa,” President Museveni appealed to all Ugandans.
The President added that because of the correct policy decision by the National Resistance Movement such as the returning of Indian properties, and the liberalization of the economy among others, the country managed to attract investors and the economy has managed to jump from USD1.5 billion in 1986 to USD50 billion today notwithstanding the fact that the economy is largely dependent on raw materials and have not done a lot of value addition.
He however said that with value addition, the economy would expand threefold and therefore called upon all Ugandans to support the government’s efforts to lower the cost of doing business by lowering the cost of money, cost of transport, and energy.
On the quest for a minimum wage by the labor organization, the President said that there was a need for Uganda to be cautious in implementing the recommended wages by international labor organisations since Africa has structural differences from the Western world.
The President used the occasion to advise the people of Busoga and all Ugandans who have cultivated wetlands to peacefully leave them and promised that the government was to support them to start a new life on the mainland.
The minister for Gender, labor and Social Development, Hon. Betty Amongi said that there was a need to improve the ethical behavior and integrity of Uganda’s labour force, noting that unethical conduct and lack of integrity among workers was pushing up the cost of doing business in the country. She added that Uganda’s labour competitiveness was the lowest in the region and needed to be improved which she said reflects badly on her productivity.
She however noted that unemployment had gone down and projected it was to go down further as the economy expanded.
Mrs. Achilo Beatrice who spoke on behalf of the workers said that the biggest hindrance to productivity in Uganda’s labour force is a culture of indiscipline and a lack of a clear mindset. She said that to better the country’s labour force there is a need for mandatory pre—entry induction as well as regular training for all civil servants and those in the private sector.
She emphasized the need for the country to have a minimum and the need to strike a balance between the employees and the employers.
The function was attended by among others the Vice President, H.E Jessica Alupo, the Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny-Dollo, several ministers, diplomats, and many government officials.