Opposition leaders who were arrested and charged for taking part in the walk to work demonstration have announced they are planning to camp at Parliament and refuse to eat anything for as long as it takes as they protest against escalating prices.
Mukono North MP Betty Nambooze told journalists today that the leaders have decided not to eat anything as they go about their duties at Parliament. She said that there was no point for them (leaders) to eat when the public can hardly afford food.
Nambooze also announced that they were ready to reject budgets of institutions like the Police which have consistently harassed them to show them that “you cannot bite a hand that feeds you.” She also disclosed that they have chosen five members amongst themselves to visit Bank of Uganda to find out the status of the country’s reserves.
The chosen include; Kampala Mayor Elias Lukwago, Bugwere South MP Abdu Katuntu, Public Accounts Committee Chairman Nandala Mafabi, Aruu county MP Odonga Otto and Nambooze herself.
Nambooze said that it was possible that the government could have over drained the reserves because of its extravagant expenditure. Uganda Bureau of statistics last month put inflation at 11.1%.
UBOS indicated that the dollar hitting a Shs. 2,400 record high was part of the problem. The dollar is still high at Shs. 2, 350. But the increase in inflation was mainly due to food prices as food inflation alone hit a 29 % high between February and March.
The UBOS report attributed this to reduced supplies due to the prolonged dry season in most parts of the country. However, the depreciation of the shilling against the dollar remains one of the major causes of the escalating prices.
Makerere University Economic Policy Research Centre’s Lawrence Bategeka, mentions a number of factors that have caused high inflation. However, he also blames the Government for heavily borrowing “from the Central Bank and compromising the Bank of Uganda’s ability to mitigate the shilling’s slide,” he told New Vision.
Uganda’s reserves are reported to have fallen to just under $2.0b, from about $2.8b five months ago, in contravention of our targets with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), according to Bategeka.
The target is for Uganda’s reserves to remain at about four times our average monthly imports of $700m. The Government recently announced that it drew down on reserves to buy jet fighters and other military hardware which the opposition has criticized heavily.