UBOS – World Bank clash over Uganda’s middle income status

The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos), the government’s statistical body, and the World Bank have disagreed on the methodology used while determining the Ugandan economy’s status. #UgandaNews #WhisperEyeNews

In his State of the Nation address on June 7, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni said that Uganda would achieve the economic indicators putting it in the threshold for lower-middle-income status by the time of the budget reading a week later.

The president repeated the same on budget day and wondered why the Finance, Planning and Economic Development minister Matia Kasaija had not mentioned it in his speech. He said the conclusion was based on the size of Uganda’s economy or GDP compared to the economy.

But on the last day of the financial year 2021/22, the World Bank released the 19th Uganda economic update, which showed that the country was yet to achieve the required figures to join the middle-income countries. The report outs Uganda’s per capita income at $850 (Shs 3.1 million) as opposed to the $1,045 (Shs 3.8 million) stated by Museveni.

According to the World Bank, the GDP, which is the total monetary or market value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period, is no longer used to determine the status of the economy, but the Gross National Income (GNI), which considers GDP plus economic activities undertaken outside the country by Uganda nationals, excluding activities of foreigners resident in the country.

It’s for this reason that Ubos, World Bank together with the Bank of Uganda met to harmonize their position following two opposing views on the economy. The meeting of the three institutions was sanctioned by the president to harmonize the positions, but it ended without agreement.

Ubos executive director, Chris Mukiza who described the meeting as cordial, said the only difference was in the choice of statistics to use.

“World Bank is reporting using GNI, that we shall explain GNI per Capita. We at the bureau reported GDP per capita. These are two different national account aggregates. So the issue is the interpretation and the reference period by the two reports,” Mukiza said.

He expressed disappointment that Ugandan journalists like quoting foreign reports as opposed to national reports.

“Yes, we shall discuss it because I want to concur with those guys who were running for a meeting,” said a visibly angry Mukiza.

He, however, said the meeting ended before concluding a joint statement, which, according to him, will be written when they convene again on Wednesday.

“I don’t want to release it and they say ‘this is not what we agreed on. We have to agree so that we do not confuse the public. We agreed but did not finish the statement.”

The earlier World Bank statement created widespread social media criticism of the president, many asking where he had gotten his figures from.

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