Yesterday’s Daily Monitor cover story stated that the cost of feeding a family has gone up by 30 per cent since last year.
The biggest complaint right now is the price of sugar. Whereas a kilogramme cost Shs3,500 some months back, it now goes for between Shs4,500 and Shs7,000. Prices of other food stuffs have also been going up rather rapidly since last year. A kilo of Kaiso rice that cost Shs3,000 in the past now costs Shs3,800. A kilo of groundnuts that cost Shs5,000 now costs Shs7,000. A bunch of matooke, a staple in many homes, now goes for between Shs25,000 and Shs30,000, up by Shs5,000 and more.
Because of this situation, families now have to make cutbacks on what they can afford to have. In addition to that, people have to cut back on other items they might now consider as luxuries or as items they will just have to do without.
Uganda is certainly not the only country facing tough economic times. Zimbabwe in Southern Africa has for many years been facing a serious economic crisis and continues to face mind-boggling inflation and a rise in crime. Many of its citizens have also left the country looking for better incomes elsewhere.
Further from home, Venezuela is facing turbulent times as well because of the nose-diving economy. According to economists, inflation in the country is expected to rise to 700 per cent.
These two countries were in the past some of those doing really well in their respective continents. Zimbabwe was once described as a breadbasket of the Southern African region and Venezuela thrived on its oil exports. But their economies have plummeted.
Reports show that Venezuela’s economy shrunk by 10 per cent last year. Zimbabwe has had its fair share of hyperinflation and just months ago, citizens had to queue up at the banks as early as 5am (with some even sleeping on the bank premises) in order to get some cash before it run out.
The countries are now beset with crime, black markets and desperate citizens leaving in droves in order to find ways to earn an income.
Uganda is not there yet, but there are lessons that should be picked. The current economic hard times should be an eye opener and should serve as warning sign of a problem, which the government should seek to fix before it becomes a full blown crisis.
Let us not travel the path of Zimbabwe and Venezuela.