Kampala — Despite projecting a positive outlook of the economy, it was a tall order for Finance minister Matia Kasaija to maintain the same sentiments while talking about the unemployment question.
Mr Kasaija admitted that it is a ticking time bomb that needs to be deactivated before it explodes.
While delivering the key note address at the third annual NTV Economic Forum on Wednesday, Mr Kasaija presented a rosy picture of the economy, which some participants said does not give the accurate picture.
"Two months ago, Uganda Bureau of Statistic released the GDP outturn figures for 2017/18, the new numbers are heartening. They show economic activity is on an upward swing," Mr Kasaija said with emphasis.
He continued: "The economy expanded by 6.1 per cent in financial year 2017/18, clearly higher than the 5.8 per cent estimate that I reported during my budget speech in June."
According to Mr Kasaija, a breakdown of annual economic growth in Financial Year 2017/18 improved performance across all sectors of the economy.
The agriculture sector annual growth figures stood at 3.8 per cent in 2017/18 compared to 1.6 per cent growth registered in the earlier financial year. This was followed by industry which grew from 3.4 per cent to 6.1 per cent and services which increased from 5.4 to 7.7 per cent over the same period.
He also mentioned the 26 per cent annual growth in the mining and quarrying sub sector. But his voice immediately waned while mentioning the 1.7 marginal annual growth in the manufacturing sector, thanks to slowdown in private credit growth and low plant utilisation capacity.
The good news is that the ICT sub sector is the major driver of expansion with annual growth of 15 per cent.
"The upward swing in economic activity seen in second half of the Financial Year 2017/18 has continued throughout the first quarter of Financial Year 2018/19. All three of the high frequency economic indicators used to monitor changes in business activity and sentiment show that investor confidence is strong and growing," Mr Kasaija said.
He, however, warned that unemployed youth are a ticking time bomb, describing them as restless and delicate.
He said together with the private sector, a solution to this challenge must be sought, advising that the first prescription lies in agriculture and agribusiness.
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said government is mindful of engaging all stakeholders. He said the outcome of this deliberation will influence deliberation in government as it (NTV summit) provides opportunity for government and private sector together to work towards formulating the right policies.
NTV was commended for hosting this event for the third time in a row.