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Traders Criticize Budget's Silence on Roads and the Dollar

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The 2009/10 national budget has got traders seething over the finance minister's silence on developments in the road sector and the depreciating shilling.
Minister Syda Bbumba today read the budget that notably did not make any changes in tariffs on most essential goods and services but did not elaborate much of the achievements of the 2008/09 financial year budget.
Of concern to city traders is especially the minister's silence on what the 1.1 trillion shillings allocated for road development did.
Everest Kayondo, the vice chairman of Kampala City Traders' Association (KACITA), says the money was so much yet what is on ground is very negligible.
Kayondo, who keenly followed the budget speech on both radio and television, says the minister apart from acknowledging the volatility of the exchange rates should have also talked about the interventions being made.
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According to Kayondo, the exchange rate in relation to imports should be fixed instead of being left to market forces of demand, supply and speculation.
He also criticizes the government's intervention in boosting electricity supply yet the ownership of the industry is in private hands. He reasons that the private owners should instead shoulder the burden.
Kayondo, however, lauds the budget for the as-is continuation of the tariffs saying it would enable the business people to navigate and survive without hurting end consumers.
He reasons that traders are unlikely to take advantage of the static taxes to recoup their losses due to the depreciating shilling.
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Mubarak Ntale, a businessman, says even if Uganda Revenue Authority's capacity to collect revenues was strengthened as suggested in the budget, not much will be achieved if corruption in the tax body is not combated.
Ntale also argues that as long as the dollar remains strong against the shilling, it would affect fuel prices which would automatically translate into higher prices.
It was also surprising that while the budget was being read, very few if any of the traders and consumers actually knew that it was being read, just like Henry Kayine explains.
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