The issue: Wealth creation
Our view: The President’s word is loud and clear. We have hands, legs and brains to think, let us use the New Year to work hard and stop expecting a sudden windfall of financial blessings or hoping for manna to fall from heaven.
President Museveni on Monday, in his New Year address to the nation, painted a rosy picture of his regime’s achievements and what his government plans to do going forward.
However, what stuck out – and credit should be given where due – is his advice to the youth on frugality and wealth generation.
“I salute the many youth that flock the worship centres to pray to God and to listen to the scriptures. I only caution them on illusions of miracle wealth. God helps those who help themselves,” Mr Museveni said.
The President’s word is loud and clear. We have hands, legs and brains to think, let us use the New Year to work hard and stop expecting a sudden windfall of financial blessings or hoping for manna to fall from heaven.
Mr Museveni then added: “Do not be extravagant and showy. Be frugal, simple and hardworking. As a youth, I led my family and my area in modernisation and wealth creation, away from the ancient traditional ways.
“This was on top of the political work we were engaged in. We never wasted money on alcohol, luxuries, revelling (ebinyumo) or foreign travel. The youth who listen to our advice will succeed.”
Of course, to some, President Museveni may not the best example of a frugal lifestyle given his expenditure on a vast motorcade and aides at the Presidency. However, the message should be taken without biasing the sender.
Many youth today are indebted because they spend money on things they do not need, engage in extravagant lifestyles or take loans, which they are unable to service, to do things that do not return profit. Also, the unnecessary impressionable nature of millennials pushes them to dive into debt in their quest for ‘acceptance’ in the society.
The Young Women’s Trust says a quarter of young people in England and Wales have to borrow to make ends meet and are facing a “debt epidemic”.
As we start 2019, let’s be more realistic and think carefully before we spend. For instance, can you take a taxi instead of a cab? Can you avoid shopping on impulse? Can you – if still renting - stay in a house you can easily pay for?
These and many other austerity measures will take you, without appearing to be a miser, through the year without a strain to your financial muscle.
However, sometimes, many people find themselves in debt without choice. They genuinely struggle to live within their means but the circumstances drive them astray. For example, the cost of living – especially in the city – is too high yet people’s incomes remain the same. How, then, will people afford food, rent, childcare, fuel, among others, without going into debt?
The President is right, but his government should do everything to make the cost of living affordable.