Research Theme 1

One of the priority objectives of the Ugandan Government is to sustain high economic growth and create employment particularly for the youth. Inevitably, there is also increased focus on improving competitiveness in view of the East African Countries (EAC) integration, where Ugandan firms will face increased competition.

There is also a renewed focus on inclusive growth in order to sustain poverty reduction efforts in the country and to curb the growing inequality among Ugandans. While some of these issues may be of a policy nature, some relate to institutional aspects that require in-depth understanding through research.


Sub-Themes

1.1 Sustainable growth and development

This subtheme focuses on macroeconomic policies that impact on growth and competitiveness, including monetary and fiscal policies and the drivers of Uganda's economic growth.

The research questions focus on the strategic economic policy issues and include, but not limited to:

  • What policy mix and strategic interventions can lead to higher and inclusive economic growth?
  • What are the implications of the conduct of monetary and fiscal policies for economic growth?
  • What are the potential drivers of economic growth that can lead to economic competitiveness in the future?
  • Is Uganda's economic growth and development strategy transformative and sustainable?

1.2 Employment

The focus in this subtheme is on policies and practices that are employment enhancing and those aspects that impinge on employment creation. There is some preliminary evidence that suggests that while large firms get preferential treatment they have substituted labour for technology thus leading to a reduction in average employment per firm over time.

On the contrary, small- and micro-enterprises that have a higher capacity to hire are also facing constraints of various types. There is therefore a potential conflict between Government policy and employment creation objectives which require deeper analysis to understand. The issue of unemployment is so complex that at times it's not well understood, and research can help to unpack this issue.

The research questions in this area include the following:

  • What are the sectoral issues and support in addressing unemployment?
  • What are the specific skills development tools required to build a workforce that is competitive at least within the EAC?
  • Are the current government initiatives adequate to solve unemployment and what role can the private sector play in addressing the issue of unemployment?
  • What is the nature and structure of unemployment?
  • What areas of the economy have a high potential of generating employment?
  • Why are firms in Uganda inclined to employing foreigners? Is it a question of regulation or competitiveness?

1.3 Public Finance Management (PFM)

EPRC work in this area concentrates on overall public finance management. Our research focuses on understanding issues related to the key challenges in public finance management. The aim is to provide empirical evidence to support the need for reforms.

We seek to identify whether the current public finance management policies, legal and regulatory frameworks are adequate to promote efficient public finance management. Are there ethical issues that impact on public finance management like has been the case in many Government institutions, and what are the safeguards measures to minimize impact on the economy and welfare of the majority?

Other specific areas research activities in PFM include:

(i) Understanding the issue of Ghost workers, leakages of public resources, accountability mechanisms and gaps, the nature of corruption in public institutions and the motive behind such behavours, M&E, and issues of policy consistency. We believe that research in this area will help to come up with options on how to curb down ghost employees, and how to undertake M&E that ensure value for money and tracking of public finance wastages.

(ii) Public Revenue management including how to improve tax administration is another area of focus. The research questions include:

    • Does government have the political will to collect tax?
    • What are the incentive structures for tax collection and evasion?
    • What is the role of public and private institutions?
    • Are the public polices and institutional structures appropriate to enhance domestic revenue mobilisation?
    • How to improve tax revenue performance and what are the options for increasing Uganda's tax base?
    • What is the cost of the trade-offs in providing fiscal incentives to support private investment?

(iii) Public Expenditure: The research focus is on how can government improve allocative and operational efficiency of public resources:

    • How is the expansive public administration impacting on local economic development and service delivery?
    • What are the critical factors that undermine or enhance efficiency in budget implementation and which impact on service delivery and growth prospects?  
    • How can government prioritize public expenditure?

(iv) Financial aid and sustainability: In view of diminishing ODA and constraints in domestic revenue mobilization; what options are available to government to finance its investment programs? And what are the costs of these options e.g. PPP, non concession financing, contractor financing? Other questions are:

    • What would be the appropriate balance between cost of borrowing and growth in utilizing domestic debt financing on the budget?
    • What has been the impact of development assistance on the country's growth and development objectives?
    • What is the likely impact of a donor shift of emphasis from budget support to project support?
    • What are the likely consequences of these shifts on Uganda's development strategies and economic reforms?
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