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Uganda: "Aid should beef up Africa's competitiveness" - Museveni

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President Yoweri Museveni has said the planned increased aid for Africa that is being championed by British Premier Mr. Tony Blair, should be geared at improving the competitiveness of the economies of the continent.

The President made the observation while meeting 2 British Members of Parliament, Mr. Andrew Mitchell of the Conservative Party and shadow Secretary of State for International Development and Lord Ashcroff, a member of the House of Lords.

The meeting took place last evening in the President's Parliamentary Buildings Office in Kampala.

Mr. Museveni said aid, especially for post conflict economies like Uganda, should primarily enable lower costs of business for the country. For this to happen, he said, aid should be used to improve physical infrastructure such as railways, roads, electricity and piped water. He said that when the physical infrastructure is efficient, investors find it cheaper to do business in the country and compete favourably in the international market.

The President warned against concentrating aid on non-productive activity such as capacity building in form of seminars and workshops. He said Africa needs help to build infrastructure because investors in this area prefer more developed economies like those in South East Asia.

He welcomed the new aid initiative for Africa spearheaded by Premier Tony Blair and promised Uganda's co-operation in ensuring that it achieves its objectives.

Mr. Museveni briefed the British legislators on Uganda's strategy in reducing HIV/AIDS infection over the years. He said government primarily relied on traditional culture that discourages promiscuity. He said there had been relaxation in the observance of this cultural norm but the Movement government re-enforced it after realising that HIV/AIDS was incurable. He said government also ensured safety in blood transfusion and encouraged the use of drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the scourge.

On the security situation in the north, President Museveni said the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) terrorism is being phased out as a result of military pressure and the peace settlement in southern Sudan.

He assured the visiting British legislators that he will champion the return to multiparty politics during the up-coming referendum on the political system. He said the return to multiparty politics will ensure cohesion among the Movement supporters and allow the minority that is opposed to the Movement, to organise separately.

Visiting British MP Mr. Mitchell praised the government of Uganda for its success in HIV/AIDS control. He said that they had visited The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO) in Kampala and were impressed by the treatment given to patients.

He said the British government respects the planned referendum on the political system in Uganda and hoped it will maintain the stability the country is now enjoying. He said the UK is willing to assist in the post-conflict reconstruction efforts in northern Uganda.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Sam Kutesa attended the meeting. ..End.