President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni reiterated that the government has no solution to the runaway fuel and other commodity prices.
Addressing the country last evening at State House Nakasero, Museveni insisted that contrary to popular calls, it would be a mistake to subsidize or cut taxes on fuel. Museveni said that the ultimate solution to the high fuel prices lies in shifting away from petroleum to electric motor vehicles and motorcycles and using the railway.
“When we had this problem, the debate was that subsidize the petrol from outside and cancel taxes. That one, we said no; this is not wise. The question is, do we intensify dependency or disengage and be free of okusaka and bleed ourselves white? When you say remove the tax, the money we have here that people say we should remove it means we should forget about the roads… The taxes we are talking about are to do these roads, so if we stop these projects this would be a mistake,” Museveni said.
He added however that he was aware that people need immediate solutions to the current high prices as they wait for the long-term solutions that include rehabilitating the railway system and also the production of electric vehicles.
“The short-term solutions are two; diplomacy, I have been talking with the Russians and the Americans privately and now diplomacy has started bringing the wheat of Ukraine. Even the fuel, we would buy it from the Russians but that will put us in collusion with the Americans and that’s not necessary. So, for now, let’s economize the fuel and we get other solutions. These measures will help us deal with the imported problems,” he said.
The president said Ugandans should applaud the NRM government for being revolutionary by moving the country away from dependency not only on imported commodities but also the export of a few agricultural products such as coffee, cotton and tea. Museveni said Uganda is only having a problem with high prices for four commodities; fertilizers, vegetable oil, wheat and fuel.
“This is the plan from the beginning of NRM of restoring the enclave economy. An economy of liberation not of a colonial economy. Now, we are crying because of four items which come from outside what would have happened if we were still importing beer, milk, Soap, and iron bars among others? If the people listen to the NRM, we shall quickly recover from this,” Museveni said.
He however said that his government is thinking about subsidizing fertilizers before the country starts producing its own in Sukulu Tororo.
“For the palm oil, the answer is growing our own, for wheat, I hear the price is coming down; I wouldn’t lose sleep over it because there are other options such as cassava and millet,” Museveni said.
Meanwhile, Museveni has sent his condolences to families that lost their loved ones in last week’s floods that ravaged Bugisu and Sebei regions. He said the cabinet will sit on Monday and come out with a comprehensive plan on how to deal with the environment once and for all.
“How many times have we begged you Ugandans; God is the one who made this earth but people say God was wrong. Where God said there should be water somebody puts a garden. We must listen to the NRM advice which we have been giving you from the beginning. When we came in 1986, we chased people from Mabira forest… but because we were busy fighting wars, people now started invading the forests and wetlands. We are going to come out with a comprehensive plan to really see that we respect the environment. This time we don’t want any games everybody has to fall in line and sustain what God gave us,” Museveni said.