BY DOREEN NASASIRA – The Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda has said countries in Sub- Saharan Africa can outgrow their debt burdens and reduce reliance on borrowing through sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

He said this because 40% of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are in debt distress hence the need to devise collaborative means of addressing the slow growth rate of exports and GDP.

The Premier made the remarks while officiating at the opening of the 3- day Regional Conference on Public Debt Management and Sustainable Economic Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa at Speke Resort Munyonyo on Wednesday.

The Premier said the rising debt burden faced by Sub- Saharan African countries results from the increasing levels of investment requirements needed to achieve development goals, and the peace and stability which facilitates borrowing through attracting creditors among other factors, and hence called for proper utilization of the acquired debt.

Debt management is not just about risks and challenges. It is also about opportunities. We need to ensure that the debt we acquire is well utilized and contributes to sustainable and inclusive economic growth,” the Prime Minister said.

He added that this will, however, require prudent economic policies alongside capable project management.

Rugunda also highlighted the importance of regional collaboration in abating the debt crisis faced by Sub-Saharan Africa countries.

Debt challenges and opportunities should be tackled as a region. Many of us face similar situations and dynamics. Our economic growth depends on that of our neighbors and trading partners and vice versa. We hope they manage their debt well as they also hope we do,” Dr. Rugunda said.

The Minister of State for Finance, Hon. David Bahati said Uganda’s debt is still sustainable, however, highlighted that a reduction in grants has led to a rise in the country’s non- concessional borrowing.

The Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and Chief Economist Department of Economic and Social Affairs for United Nations, Elliot Harris, said although Africa’s debt ratio is still below 50%, it is rapidly rising which calls for action.

The conference is being attended by high-level policymakers and practitioners of debt management, academic experts and civil society representatives from 19 countries.

Ends.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020