The Vice President Maj (Rtd) Jessica Alupo has lauded the Chief Coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) Gen. Salim Saleh (Caleb Akandwanaho) for his commitment to ensuring that all regions of the country are supported to develop.
She also commended him for supporting the private sector in developing the country. “This is a private-sector-led economy, and we need to continue supporting the private sector,” she noted.
The Vice President also tasked leaders from the Eastern and Northern sub-regions of the country (Teso, Lango, Karamoja, and Acholi) to embrace all Government development programmes as a way of moving the country to the Middle-Income Status.
“Thank you, Gen. Saleh, for identifying all these leaders, and continuously working with different regions in the country, to ensure that they are supported to develop,” the Vice President noted. She added that it is because of some of these regions’ economic status, that the country failed to reach the Middle-Income Status.
The Vice President made the remarks on Tuesday afternoon while attending a meeting convened by OWC, at Garuga Resort Katomi Kingdom Resort Hotel in Garuga off Entebbe Road.
The meeting was organized to set modalities of transforming the social and economic welfare of Lango, Acholi, Teso and Karamoja areas. The meeting was also attended by the Minister for Karamoja Affairs Dr Maria Goretti Kimono Kitutu, State Minister in charge of Northern Uganda Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny, State Minister for Teso Affairs Clement Kenneth Ongalo Obote, and the Minister of State for Tourism (Wildlife and Antiquities) Martin Mugarura.
Others were Members of Parliament, local leaders, and technical officers from Northern Uganda, Karamoja, and Teso.
In 2015, the NRM Government set out a target of transiting Uganda into the Lower Middle-Income status with a per capita income of USD 1,039 by the year 2020 (NDP11 2015/16-2019/2020). The implementation of NDP II 2015/16 -2019/20 which was expected to deliver this aspiration was unable to achieve it.
By 2019, per capita income remained at USD $794. Some of the regions which lagged behind include Acholi, Karamoja, Bukedi, Busoga, Kigezi, Lango, and Teso. The Vice President says there is a need to have these regions developed, for the country to get to the Middle-Income Status.
The Vice President noted some of the regions like Lango and Acholi have the same characteristics as Teso. “Karamoja does not have enough rainfall every year, but it is less like all these regions.”
The Vice President said this is more a reason the leaders from these regions should team up, and work together, for the development of the country. “Let us not pretend that these regions are not the same level,” she cautioned them.
She also noted that all these regions have educated sons and daughters “and it is no longer an issue, to say they have inadequate human resource.” “Let us appreciate the Government, which has greatly improved the human resource in these regions, but also, in the entire country. At least in all these regions, there are educated people,” she added.
The Vice President also asked the leaders to embrace all Government Programmes like the Parish Development Model, and properly link them with the affirmative action programmes for these regions.
“As leaders and technical people, consultations are very important. There are also several NGOs in some of these regions, like Karamoja; and we need to work closely with these civil society organizations for additional support.”
She also asked the local leaders and politicians, to encourage the people to plant cash crops; and to also think of markets for the produce.
“We need to think of national, regional, and international markets for the produce. Our produce also needs to meet international standards. There is also need to work with the foreign affairs ministry, to ensure we open up markets for our produce as Uganda, to the foreign markets.”
The Vice President also reiterated the need for ensuring that peace is maintained in all these regions of the country; “if all these projects and activities are to thrive.”
She cited the Karacuna in Karamoja, who need to be involved in the Government programmes, like the Parish Development Model.
“There is 30% of this money, meant for the youths; and the Karacunas can be mobilized under the youths and supported.”
In his message, Gen. Saleh thanked the Vice President for sparing time to interact with leaders from various regions on the country's development matters.
He also called upon leaders to always openly discuss issues affecting their regions, in these forums.
“This is one sure way we can know issues affecting your areas. We are committed to supporting you. But we need to know what works for you.”
Gen. Saleh also asked the leaders to be more accountable for the funding that the Government invests in their communities; through mobilization and follow-ups.