The Rt.Hon. Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has called for the closing of the gap between the rich and the poor.
Kadaga made the call while launching a report by Oxfam on ending income inequality in the country, Wednesday, 29th March 2017 at Serena International Conference Centre.
Kadaga said that high levels of inequality were visible in the allocation of services across the country. “We have only two banks in Kamuli. The latest is Centenary Bank which was opened after a long struggle with countless requests to the Archbishop. Banks are supposed to be everywhere which is not the case,” she said.
Kadaga added that an ordinary citizen getting low interest and friendly loans to finance development projects is an uphill task.
“I wrote to Uganda Development Bank and literally pleaded with them for a loan to build a hotel in Kamuli. It was so hard for me to get through to them yet I am the Speaker; what happens to an ordinary citizen requesting the same kind of services from Uganda Development Bank?” She asked.
The Speaker added that Parliament had introduced the gender equity certificate in the Public Finance Management Act to address the issues of inequality. ‘For any budget proposal to be successful it has to be awarded a certificate of gender equity’.
“We were mindful of the issues of inequality when we introduced the certificate of gender equity. I am aware of elements in government who are against it but we shall defend its existence,” Kadaga added.
The Country Director of Oxfam, Peter Kamalingin said that one of the visions of the organization is to end injustice and poverty.
“We have realized that we need big numbers in terms of people to join in the fight against these vices,” Kamalingin said.
Kamalingin added that, “Through the report we discovered that eight people own as much wealth as the rest of the 3.6 billion people in the world. We want to reduce this and give chance for everyone to have an equal chance to climb out of poverty. Studies show that less people get that opportunity.”
He said that there is need to reverse the current trend of inequality as this may pose a threat to national security.
Prof. Augustus Nuwagaba who presented the report said that poverty in Uganda had reduced from 56% to 19% between 1992 and 2014.
The report however, noted that in the Northern and Eastern regions, it is at 47% and 37% respectively whereas in Central and Western region it is at 6% and 10% respectively.
The Report also states that 10 percent of the population own 35.7 percent of the country’s income.
“The poverty levels remain higher in rural areas at 22.8 percent compared to 9.3 percent in the urban areas,” the Report notes.