In 1984, when Mr Yoweri Museveni was fighting then president Milton Obote, he rebuked Obote for presiding over “a population with high number of persons per every available doctor”. After three decades of NRM rule, the number of persons per available doctor as of 2013 was 28,916 yet in 1965 the number of persons per doctor was only 11,080.
How did Mr Museveni of 1984, who scorned Obote for presiding over “a big number of persons per every available doctor”, preside over a worse ratio in 2013? How can President Museveni of 2017 preside over ‘many persons per zero doctor’ as doctors abandon work?
The Bible warns that “it is not good to have zeal without knowledge” (Proverb 19:2). Museveni of 1984 and Museveni of 2017 are one and the same. The Museveni of then, as the Museveni of today presided, and continues to preside over a political organisation called NRM which had zeal, and still has zeal, but unfortunately lacked knowledge, and still lacks knowledge of how countries are ‘Singaporised’. That is why NRM government cannot pay competitive wages to public servants.
NRM has two fundamental problems pitted against competitive wage:
(1) Museveni believes in the communist ideology where people were expected to work for peanuts in the name of patriotism. Communism economic ideology failed miserably in Eastern Europe, and it has failed and continues to fail in Uganda too.
(2) The IMF/World Bank and their local agents in the ministry of Finance and Bank of Uganda misled, and continue to mislead Museveni that there are three sources of money to finance government obligations: (A) Hate tax which kills business. (B) Borrow more from foreign lenders and borrow less domestically. (C) Beg free money from donors.
Sadly, the same donors use different sources to get money to finance their obligations without resorting to the “beggardom syndrome”: (1) Fair taxation which helps companies grow instead of destroying them. (2) Borrow domestically and (3) Printing of money to fill the gap not met by taxes and from domestic borrowing. And this is what all intelligent economic managers do.
In the beginning of economic exchange among humans, the means of exchange were things with natural value, like gold and cattle. But as population and economic activities increased, the natural means of exchange became inadequate to cope with the social, economic, political and security demands.
When Britain, for example, was still on gold standard before 1914, its gold holding was just three per cent of the total money supply requirement. The American’s dream to conquer the world, have the largest standing army and achieve a high wage economy, made gold too inadequate to fulfil those financial obligations. And it was time to abandon the so-called gold exchange, and resort to elastic money supply, by way of printing money.
Unless Black African politicians and economists can understand the prudent and complex financial engineering known as “money creation”, they will never properly solve the problem of “beggardom syndrome”, including the inability to pay competitive wages.
This is an area that requires serious academic study, not just being dismissive of the idea of printing money. Annoyingly, Black African economists have been brainwashed to believe that printing money leads to inflation, which is not true. It is like saying manufacturing vehicles leads to death by accidents or making alcohol leads to drunkenness.
Granted, Uganda prints money but in imprudent manner such as for politicking, speculation and consumption not for production of goods or provision of services. The bad news is that NRM government will not be able to come up with any long lasting solution for competitive salaries by November 28.
What NRM is telling doctors is like telling some family members that they cannot have a meal until all the family members come and agree on how to share the available food. After November 28, NRM will come up with more excuses, because of lack of finance economics knowledge.
Mr Cheeye is a journalist and an economist