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Saturday 24 March 2018

Wealth not common

EVEN AS his administration is under international fire for a proposed bill which seeks to impose custodial sentences and even death for homosexuality, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni yesterday lamented there was not enough equity in the distribution of wealth among Commonwealth nations.

Speaking at the Commonwealth Business Forum onboard the luxury cruise ship Serenade of the Seas at the Port-of-Spain Harbour, Musuveni said: “The Commonwealth constitutes over 30 percent of the world’s population. It comprises rich and poor countries. Large countries, as well as small ones. We have the potential for very good business scenarios. However, it may be the Commonwealth but up to now, the wealth is not common!”

He acknowledged this was due to a number of scenarios, which handicapped several developing countries, including extreme poverty, gender disparity, the lack of education and the explosion of diseases such as HIV.

He also pointed out that these factors were present in many countries in Africa, but suggested that Commonwealth countries network and create stronger business relations with the African continent as well as with each other.

“Co-operation and integration among counties in the world, especially Africa, must develop. There needs to be mutual development of partnerships which can be used then to tackle varying scenarios with a unified front,” Museveni explained. He said businesses did not only need to focus on countries with physical resources, as there were several countries which were “poor” in this field yet still maintained some of the highest Gross Domestic Products (GDP) per annum.

Musuveni singled out Japan, which he said had no physical resource, but was still among the most successful countries in the world as it was able to harness its human resource into one of the most bountiful sources of income on earth. He then suggested this could be the direction taken by countries in Africa.

“The onus is on all of us to maintain good business management and ensure our progress. Therefore my view is that in order to create sustainable activity for all of us, it must be done mainly through business,” Museveni said.

The law, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, is currently proceeding in Uganda’s Parliament after having a first reading last month. Although not yet formally endorsed by Museveni, his

Government has allowed it to proceed through Parliament, where it has received praise from several State officials.

According to the bill, a person who has gay sex is liable to life imprisonment on conviction. If that person happens to also be HIV positive, the penalty is death. If a person is convicted more than once, they also face death. Several Commonwealth groups and countries including Canada and The Commonwealth HIV & Aids Action Group (CHAAG) have condemned the bill, calling for the suspension of Uganda if the bill is passed.


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