UGANDA LAUNCHES UNIVERSAL SOCIAL PROTECTION, AS UGANDA’S PRIME MINISTER CALLS ALL TO EMBRACE CONDITIONS THAT ENSURE CONTINUED PEACE AND PROSPERITY.
Uganda’s Prime Minister, Rt Hon Dr Ruhakana Rugunda has launched the state of Uganda Population report 2019 with aim of promoting social protection that ensures equity and equality in harnessing the Demographic Dividends in Kampala.
State Minister for Finance in charge of Planning and MP Ndorwa County, Hon David Bahati said social security of people is central to the government led by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. We have increased life expectancy by 20 years in a single generation. Life expectancy was 43 years in 1986, its 63 years today, this has led to an increase in population from 14 million people to 42 million people.
Bahati said President Museveni has been quoted widely on why he thinks riches of a nation are not in soil, minerals but its people. There are many Nations without natural resources to talk about but have developed skills of its population. He named Japan, Singapore and Korea.
“He said government has implemented several projects that have made Uganda’s path to peace and prosperity look promising. We need to protect the foundations of peace and economic prosperity for all”.
Bahati said the government of Uganda will roll out Universal Social Protection for all older persons as long as they are aged 80. However we shall maintain 65 plus in some districts that had started on the program.
The Prime Minister assured Ugandans on the journey to middle income status by 2020 where government promised that each person should be valued at $1039 dollars. Currently each Ugandan is valued at $800 dollars with an economy worth $34.5 billion (128.5 trillion economy).
“With continued economic prosperity and peace, Uganda government will be able to support more vulnerable people”.
Uganda’s social protection vision is further anchored in the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda and the African Union Agenda 2063, which both commit governments to scale up investments in social protection.
The World Development Report argues, social protection directly or indirectly contributes towards at least 7 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These are SDG 1 on ending poverty, SDG 2 on ending hunger, SDG 3 on ensuring health lives, SDG 4 on quality education, SDG 5 on achieving gender quality, SDG 8 on promoting decent work and SDG 10on reducing inequality.
Steven Kasaija representing Permanent Secretary Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development asked government to atleast commit 2% of the Uganda Budget to social protection. The government of Uganda committed Uganda shillings 149 billion to SAGE(Social Assistance Grant Empowerment) for the period 2015/2016 to 2020/2021.
Government first allocated Shs 9 billion for the financial year 2015/2016, Shs 17.59 billion in 2016/2017, shs 29.15 billion 2017/2018, shs 40.34 billion in 2018/2019 and Shs 52.92 billion in 2019/2020.
Overall the government of Uganda has disbursed Shs 244 billion to some 191,000 older persons in 61 districts. The Ministry of Gender is targeting 413,000 older persons in the coming years.
National Population Council report noted that most of the current financing of SAGE is not sustainable as development partners notably Irish Aid and DFID(UKAID) provides the greater resource outlay.
In countries like South Africa, Government only relies on domestic revenue to finance social protection program, which enable the state to target a broader scope so that more people can be reached.
While the government of Uganda rely on donor aid and development partners to finance its social protection obligation, long term social protection financing should be borne by citizens through taxation and other revenue mobilization procedures.
Kasaija asked family members to support SAGE efforts because most of the older persons have land but are too old to use it. Family members can help them and the output would supplement the monthly upkeep of shs 25,000 for older persons.
Prof Fred Wabwire Mangheni, Chairperson National Population Council said Social protection is an investment in people. No country has achieved middle income status without social protection systems to match National Development.
“Development becomes meaningless if one group or region remains behind. A bigger section is at risk of backsliding to poverty as there are many shocks identified in the report. We ask government to read the report and implement it”.
United Nations Population Fund representative in Uganda praised government for introducing a bill on Universal Health Insurance which was one of the best strategy to help with social protection.
Jotham Musinguzi, Director General National Population Council, said People are a great resource of any country. We can take advantage of population to a resource that will drive economic development for Uganda.
Across Africa, millions of older people live in poverty. Without access to pensions and eroding traditions of family support, many have no choice but to continue working into older age doing small-scale , low paid farming and petty trade. For those who have disabilities or in ill health, they may have no option to work.
Without reliable incomes , older people lead precarious lives on the brink of poverty.