Winnie Kiiza takes gov’t criticism to US conference

The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Winfred Kiiza, has called for increased government investment in agriculture, which will spur growth in other sectors of the economy.

Giving Uganda’s experience, Kiiza, who was speaking during the ongoing conference of US State legislatures, said that government commits less funds to agriculture even when Uganda’s economy is highly dependent on the sector.

“Better funding to agriculture will spur improvements and growth in other sectors of the economy, that will in turn lead to less borrowing by government,” said Kiiza.

Kiiza’s contribution was in relation to the country’s unique assets that make it competitive.

The discussion also included MPs, Reagan Okumu ( Aswa County), Amos Kimunya (Kenya), Curt Bramble (Utah State, US), Madoda Sambatha (North West
Legislature, South Africa), Gade Fundile, the Chief Whip of Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature in South Africa.

“We need to add value to our agricultural produce and be able to export more starting with our region. This is an area where we have competitive advantage over our neighbours,” Kiiza added.

Kiiza led a delegation of MPs and staff of the Parliamentary Service to attend the
Conference of US State Legislatures being held at the Los Angeles Convention Centre in Los Angeles, California.

Kiiza also explained Uganda’s land ownership system and legislation guiding how government can acquire land from private individuals for investment, or public works, which according to the Constitution can only happen following compensation.

The budget allocation to agriculture in the financial year 2018/2019 stands at Shs 89.2 billion up from Shs 86.5 billion for the last financial year.

“Every individual is encouraged to have land in their name but there is now a move by government to take over private land before compensation,” she said referring to the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill on land which is before Parliament.

Okumu said Uganda has vast fertile land although much of it remains unutilised and that the country’s history involving conflicts led to challenges in the use of the land.

The delegation attending the Conference also includes Kenneth Ongalo Obote (Kalaki County), Herbert Kinobere (Kibuku) and Pius Biribonwoha, the Director Department of Legal and Legislative Services.

Parliamentarians and staff from US State Legislatures, and different national and provincial Legislatures around the world are attending the conference.

The National Conference of State Legislatures is a bipartisan organisation established in 1975 to serve members staff of State Legislatures of the US.