President Yoweri Museveni has commended the late Governor of the Bank of Uganda (BOU), Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, for helping the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Government to revive Uganda’s economy which had collapsed under the previous regimes.
According to President Museveni, by 1962 when Uganda got Independence, the country had a small island with a modern money economy surrounded by a sea of the non-money traditional economy.
“This kind of economy was being described as the money economy enclave of the 3Cs ( Coffee, Copper and Cotton) and the 3Ts (Tobacco, Tea and Tourism). When Idi Amin came in, he destroyed much of that small Island and by 1986, cotton had collapsed, copper had collapsed it was only coffee which was still limping on at two million bags a year.
For the 3Ts; Tourism had collapsed, tea had shrunk from 23 million kilograms to only 3 million kilograms and tobacco was still limping on,” he recalled.
The President made the remarks during a Memorial Lecture in honour of the Late Prof. Mutebile held at Kampala Serena Hotel Friday.
The Lecture ran under the theme: “The Legacy of Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile and its implications for the current economic challenges facing Uganda and Sub-Saharan Africa”.
Gen. Museveni added that when his government came into power in 1986, they came up with six targets that would revive the economy and here Prof. Mutebile, a celebrated economist, played a vital role in helping them achieve their economic goals.
“When we reassembled, we had very clear views which included 6 targets in the economy; the minimum recovery to bring back the small island of the money economy, and to do that we had to reformalise, expand the economy and diversify the activities in the money economy. Number four was to start building a new economy based on human intellect and science, then number 5 was the massive broad-based value addition.
Finally, another frontline we had was to struggle for the universal monetisation of the whole society so that we end the narrative of working only for the stomach,” he explained.
“Now this was our plan from the very beginning. When we came and we linked up with the Mutebiles, definitely, they contributed and in particular, Mutebile contributed to the six points. By the 1969 census, only 4 percent of the people were in the money economy. 96 percent were in the subsistence economy, can you imagine? When we came into Government, we started to talk about it but when checked, even by 2013, the people who were in the money economy were only 32 percent of the homesteads. 68 percent were outside the money economy.”
The President also pointed out that Prof. Mutebile and his group specifically put emphasis on the role of the private sector, which helped to control inflation as well as other issues that helped to grow the country’s economy.
“The Mutebile group helped us with the tactics of achieving our long-term program,” the Head-of-State noted.
The State Minister for General Duties in the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Hon. Henry Musasizi, said the late Governor laid a solid foundation for BOU and it was only appropriate that the country acknowledged and applauded his contribution to the economy of Uganda, East Africa as a region and Sub-Saharan as a whole.
“It is important to remember that during his time, he played a significant role in stabilising the economy that helped to foster economic growth and development of Uganda,” Hon. Musasizi observed.
“His legacy can, therefore, be seen in the relatively stable micro-economic development of Uganda during his tenure and his ability to guard the independence of the Bank of Uganda. Furthermore, his focus on monitoring and ensuring the financial stability of the country helped Uganda to resiliently stand the economic shocks such as the global financial crisis of 2008 and, more recently, the Covid-19 pandemic and the global fuel crisis which affected many countries globally.”
The Deputy Governor of BOU, Dr. Michael Atingi-Ego also described Prof. Mutebile as an intellectual, economic policy and central bank giant who spoke with passion and conviction, and a strong leader who governed decisively.
“He endowed us with a legacy and pedigree in courageous, charismatic and progressive decision-making that has enabled the Bank of Uganda to successfully navigate the shocks hitting the economy in the world of radical uncertainty,” Dr. Atingi-Ego said.
“The Bank of Uganda is now focused on the impact of his policies and operations on the people we serve. He was instrumental in designing and reforming the Ugandan Economy. Today, his sound microeconomy, management and performance skills still offer remarkable economic opportunities to the country.”
Dr. Atingi-Ego further lauded President Museveni for giving the late Governor an opportunity to serve Ugandans, saying that Prof. Mutebile’s legacy would not have been possible without his support and confidence in him.
“We thank you for believing in him and providing the most solid political backing and fiscal discipline towards the Bank’s independence. Your visionary support and promotion of sound financial and economic policies aligned with the best practices for a developing country inspire economic confidence,” he opined.
On the other hand, Mr. Abebe Selassie, Director of the African Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Prof. Mutebile was a powerful policymaker with brilliant ideas.
“I first met him in 2006 when I moved to Kampala to work as Country Representative – IMF but I knew of him and his work before I came here. The three years I spent here, I worked very close to him and learnt a lot from him,” Mr. Selassie said.
Dr. Patrick Njoroge, the Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya said he learnt a lot from Prof. Mutebile and his wise counsel was very paramount in helping him to deeply understand the banking issues.
“Of course, over the years I consulted with him and got experience and, truth be told, I really benefited from the conversations that we had. We became friends but really, he was my elder brother and I want to thank you, Mr. President and indeed the people of Uganda, for giving me such a worthy elder brother,” Dr. Njoroge revealed.
“He can only be described as a man of all seasons because he didn’t only play as a striker and defender but he played where he needed to play. In that sense, he was a man of multiple skills; he was an excellent micro-economist who dealt with things as an economist.”
Prof. Mutebile was an iconic figure having spent at least 30 years as a top economic and financial technocrat of the Government of Uganda. He served as Governor and Chairman of the Board of Directors of BOU from 2001 till his demise in 2022.
The Lecture was also attended by former Prime Minister, Rt Hon. Amama Mbabazi, Dr. Donald P. Kaberuka, the 7th President of the African Development Bank (ADB) and Chairman of the Global Fund and Ministers, among other dignitaries.
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