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Donors Pledge 800 Million US Dollars To Uganda

KAMPALA, Uganda (PANA) - A five-day Consultative Group meeting has ended in Kampala with donors pledging 800 million US dollars to Uganda.
Uganda's finance minister, Gerald Sendaula, described the talks as fruitful.

"The donors have accepted to continue supporting Uganda for the coming financial year with 800 million dollars in line with our requirements," he told a press conference at the end of the meeting Thursday.

Uganda's total financial requirement for 2000 is 2,255 million dollars from donors while 1,467 million dollars is expected to come from local resources.

Sendaula said government has recorded a revenue shortfall of 115 billion Uganda shillings, adding that the targeted 1,100 billion shillings will not be met.

He said Uganda will receive funds under the enhanced Highly Indebted Poor Countries initiative after the April meeting of the board of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

The minister said that Uganda's growth rate for 2000 has been put at 5 percent as compared to 8 percent in 1999.

The World Bank country representative, James Adams, said donors were willing to support government programmes to fight corruption.

He added that the new issues raised at the Consultative Group meeting included the referendum, scheduled for June/July and the new plan for modernisation of agriculture.

In the referendum, Ugandans are to choose whether they prefer the "no-party" political system or return to multiparty democracy.

The consultative meeting was dominated by the review of government's poverty action fund, Uganda's involvement in the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, defence expenditure and the implementation of the poverty eradication action plan.

It also evaluated the heavy cost of the HIV/AIDS epidemic to Uganda's poverty eradication programme.

Mark Lowcock, the head of the UK delegation, told the press conference that it will be difficult for some donors to move confidently towards budget support if the defence budget is not limited within the agreed ceiling.

President Yoweri Museveni Wednesday told donors that Uganda had spent 177 billion shillings on defence in 1999 or 2.1 percent of the GDP, which was far less than other African countries in peaceful times.

"We urge the government to commit themselves to taking towards the opportunities that present themselves for peaceful resolutions of conflict in northern, western Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo," Adams said.

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