Court permits former Crane bank employees to sue DFCU

By Sania Babirye

The high court in Kampala has given permission to 10 former crane bank employees to sue DFCU bank on behalf of their 400 colleagues  over wrongfully  dismissal.

The permission has been given by deputy registrar Sarah Langa.

The group which is seeking  6 billions in damages among others includes Managers,tellers and cleaners.

These accuse  DFCU bank of discriminatively firing them in a period of only one month after they took over from Crane bank in January of this year with out a valid and sound reason.

They are seeking compensations for the   mental, reputation and financial damage they continue to suffer as a result of their alleged wrongful termination.

They claim that Crane bank had promised its 700 employees that they will not lose their jobs after the take over.

However when DFCU bank took over  and it laid off some employees in a restructuring exercise.

Through their lawyers of Center for Legal Aid led by Mr Isaac Ssemakadde, the group wants to sue DFCU bank for breaching their alleged employment contract and rights which resulted into many of them losing their jobs.

The aggrieved  former employees are claiming that  DFCU bank contravened the Employment Act by sucking them yet during receivership, their contracts including maintaining their jobs were transferred to DFCU.

These are also seeking compensation after DFCU bank allegedly failed to fulfill any liabilities and obligations of crane bank in relation to their job security as agreed upon.

Crane Bank was the third largest bank in the country by the time Bank of Uganda took it over after its working capital went down below the required minimum  which bank of Uganda  ruled that it poised a risk to the client’s  money.

The shilling hits its lowest against dollar in two years

The shilling this week slumped against the US dollar, getting to its weakest point in two years.

The shilling shifted from its stable range of 3,600 and traded in the range of 3,645/3,655, for the first time in two years.

According to Stephen Kaboyo of Alpha Capital Partners, which watch the market, the shilling was under immense pressure on account of strong demand from the inter-bank, as commercial banks rushed to cover their short positions.

Kaboyo says significant demand was also seen from the energy, manufacturing and importers. By close of the week the shilling registered a modest rebound from its earlier losses as demand receded.

Kaboyo forecasts that the shilling will remain volatile as pockets of demand continue to play out coupled with an undercurrent of negative sentiment on account of domestic and regional political developments.

The Kenyan Shilling was also under pressure due to negative sentiments around the planned repeat presidential election and the deteriorating political and security situation in Uganda’s biggest trading partner.

Kaboyo says the anxiety kept the markets on the edge and the central bank of Kenya intervened and sold dollars in order to calm the markets.

The last time the shilling breached the 3,650 mark was in the last quarter of 2015 on account of prolonged drought and upsurge of conflict in South Sudan, then Uganda’s biggest trading partner.

Speaking to the media Thursday, Uganda’s Secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi said the Kenyan political turbulence is not yet having any significant effects on Uganda.
 

-URN

‘SAWA WORLD’ CALLS FOR MINDSET CHANGE AMONG YOUTH

By Edwin Muhumuza

Youths have been urged to change their mindset in regard to tackling the unemployment challenge. With as low as 20,000 shs, Sawa World ,a non-governmental organization says the funds are enough to embark on an income generating project, if they are well trained.

The  country director, Sheila Ampumuza speaking to the media noted that the key challenge among young people is the mindset but learning from others who have made a living from little amounts of money as capital is key to multiplying the success effect.

Ahead of the 5th Anniversary at Sheraton Gardens, on the 16th,several skills will be imparted to the youth, mainly  in marketing, business planning among others, said Ampumuza.

‘Sawa World uses an innovative approach to self-empower 1.2 billion people out of extreme poverty with their own solutions. We provide large-scale access to local solutions that are created by the very people living in extreme poverty ‘ said the founder, Daphne Nederhorst .

She adds that the organization focuses on the world’s poorest countries and ensures these solutions are shared and succeed as locally created, permanent strategies that strive without any dependency on charity or international aid.

Since 2012,the organization has experienced support from local leaders, youth organizations and feels government is right in pushing for skills development.58% of the 40,000 youth reached have their enterprises still running, says the country director.

 

 

 

Cooperatives must return – experts

By Edwin Muhumuza

Economic experts have hailed the role of cooperatives in economic development arguing that they are still relevant following concerns of a struggling economy.They argue based on their potentialto increase vibrancy  in economic activity especially in the agriculture sector.

Economist, Dr.Fred Muhumuza says all strategies outlined in the budget 2017/18 will not push Uganda to middle income status unless small holder farmers are organized and empowered through cooperatives.

Development is anchored on institutions .People do not trust people but institutions. To re organize agriculture is going to involve revisiting our institutions and one among these is the cooperatives, trying to improve the quality of those small holder farmers.”

He disputes the narrative that small holder farmers are not commercial citing examples of matooke and milk producers in western Uganda who are commercial.

it is people who want to grab other peoples land who say people must leave the land so that we can commercialize, you can still commercialize under small holder farming models.’ says Muhumuza.

He further notes that under the current regime of governance,there is need to ensure that they are competitive through stringent regulation and accountability.

Senior Development Consultant,Denis Tukahikaho notes that without cooperation Uganda will not advance inspite of aspirations to reach middle income status by 2020 and 2040.He expressed concern on common sentiments that cooperatives were killed and buried by the regime with the aim of impoverishingUgandans so they can be easily ruled. Tukahikaho defers that Union leaders participated in looting of assets of cooperatives and willingly consented to lend assets to rebels.He notes that with liberation Uganda’s coffee was devalued on the market and farmers lost morale,faulting union leaders on excitement to abandon the movement to individual buyers.

‘In Uganda because of the  land tenure system we have no space for commercial farmers like in South Africa but only individual farmers who when brought together they make a pool for mass production.’ said Denis Tukahikaho.

Participants have called for change in perception regarding cooperatives  as not only agricultural based but diverse inform of health,finance,transport,IT among others during a workshop organized by the Uhuru Institute for Social Development in Kampala, on the role of  the cooperative movement and whether it is still relevant in Uganda.

Between 1960 and 1980, cooperatives were the engine for Uganda’s economic development, employing two halves the country’s civil service and handling over 70% of Uganda’s cash crops. In the early 1990’s the economy was liberalized and other private businesses entered the market and cooperatives died out but there is increasing demand for their restoration today.

NSSF hits the Ugx 100 billion mark in June 2017

By Wasswa Deo

The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has collected more than Ugx 100 billion in contributions from its members in the month of June 2017, the Managing Director Richard Byarugaba has confirmed.

It is the first time that the Fund has hit the Ugx 100 billion mark in contributions in a single month. The previous highest mark was Ugx 85 billion that was collected in June 2016.

“This UGX100 billion plus contributions collection performance in a single month is the best ever in the history of the Fund. 2016/17 has been a challenging financial year, but we have come through with yet another collections milestone that is above our monthly collections target of Ugx 77 billion. I applaud all staff at the Fund for their tireless efforts,” he said.

Byarugaba added that he is optimistic the Fund will better last year’s overall financial performance, in spite of the challenges the economy faced in the just concluded financial year, which have had an effect on the business environment.

As a result, the Minister of Finance, Planning & Economic Development Matia Kasaija declared an interest rate of 12.3% interest, worth over Ugx 606 billion credited to NSSF members’ accounts.

Byarugaba could not confirm the new interest rate that the Fund will pay, but said that it will be declared by the Minister, in accordance with the NSSF Act.

The declaration by the Minister will happen possibly in September this year and will depend on how well the Fund has performed. However, he confirmed that the rate will not be less than the 10 year average rate of inflation plus 2 percentage points, which is in line with the FUND’s commitment to pay its members a real return.

NSSF invests in fixed income, real estate and equities. It is the largest institutional investor on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE) and one of the largest domestic holders of Government of Uganda debt.

Nakumatt closes amidst court battles with suppliers

The regional retailer Nakumatt closed three of its Uganda outlets last week but the remaining stores lack basic products, with many empty stalls and fridges, Uganda Radio Network has established.

The cash-strapped retailer closed stores at Acacia Mall in Kololo, Village Mall in Bugolobi and at Victoria Mall in Entebbe last week. In a statement, Knight Frank Uganda, the property manager of malls that housed the shut Nakumatt outlets said “the supermarket space at these malls will go under redevelopment.” In April, Nakumatt also closed its Katwe branch after it accumulated over 290 million shillings in rent arrears. It’s the same story in neighbouring Kenya where they have been closing underperforming outlets.

Nakumatt has five operational outlets in Uganda, four situated in Kampala and one in Mbarara town. Uganda Radio Network visited Nakumatt flagship store at Oasis Mall, along Yusuf Lule and Bukoto outlet which are half empty.

There are no beverages in the Oasis Mall outlet. For instance, buyers can’t get a 500-millilitre or 300-millilitre plastic bottle of soda in this outlet. There are less than 50 plastic sodas of two-litre volume remaining in this outlet.

When our reporter inquired why there are no beverages, an attendant said, “They have not been bringing them sodas and water for about two months.” Fridges and stalls in the beverages section are empty.

It’s the same story in the food section. Apart from bread, there are no food items in the supermarket. Stalls in the food section are empty. Our reporter was informed that the outlet’s butchery unit was closed months ago.

“Things are bad. We don’t know what will happen next,” an attendant lamented on Sunday at Nakumatt Oasis Mall. “We hear that there is no money and you can’t tell which shop will be closed next.”

On whether workers are paid, another attendant said, “Yes, they pay but things have changed. They don’t pay as they used to do two years ago.”

The only remaining items in Nakumatt Oasis Mall are mainly electronics, furniture and clothes. “They last brought stock here more than two months ago…I think, they bring in bread only and newspapers. That’s all,” an attendant explained.

The situation at Oasis Mall is similar to the one at Nakumatt Bukoto outlet. There are no beverages and food items in this store. Fridges and food stuff stalls are empty. An attendant told URN: “I hear they might close this store next.”

Court cases

Nakumatt has been sued by a number suppliers demanding payment. Last week, Britania Allied Industries Limited, a leading food and beverages manufacturer sued Nakumatt over unpaid debt amounting to 302 million shillings.

The regional retailer has also been sued by State Minister for Veteran Affairs, Bright Rwamirama and wife Florence Rwamirama, together with Mpororo Group demanding payment of over two billion Shillings in rent arrears. Nakumatt is operating its Mbarara branch at Multiplex Complex which is owned by Rwamirama. The four-storey building is situated on Plot 4, along Buremba Road in Mbarara town.

Nakumatt is a wholly Kenyan, privately held company, owned by the Atul Shah family. In a statement issued last week, Nakumatt boss Atul Shah apologised to the employees, creditors, suppliers and shoppers for the sorry state of affairs at the supermarket.

“We have learnt a painful, humbling lesson. We shall emerge stronger, firmly focused to place Nakumatt high on the continental and global retail map,” Atul said. “Allow me this opportunity to once again express my sincere apologies to all the stakeholders we have let down. I can’t say it enough, but I am sorry and sincerely committed to facilitating the turnaround of Nakumatt, whatever it takes,” he added.

-URN

 

Gov’t to impose UTL lines on Ugandans to save struggling telecom company

Ugandans will soon be forced to own a UTL SIM card in order to save the struggling telecom company. This was revealed on Monday by the State Minister for Investment and Privatization Evelyn Anite, where every Ugandan will have a UTL SIM just like the National ID. Speaking at the UTL staff blood donation drive at the constitutional square in Kampala, the outspoken minister said that owning a UTL line should be a show of pride and patriotism for Ugandans. Anite was tasked with ensuring that UTL doesn’t wind up.

Uganda Telecom has been facing challenges of nearly one trillion shillings in debt and was recently placed under receivership.

UTL’s blood donation drive is in partnership with Uganda Blood Transfusion Services (UBTS) will be held at the Constitutional Square in Kampala from Monday June 19th to Wednesday June 21st 2017. The drive will then be moved to Queens’ way, Entebbe road from Thursday June 22nd to Saturday June 24th 2017 from 8:00am to 5:00pm daily.

Speaking at the launch, the State Minister of Finance for Investment and Privatization, Hon Evelyn Anite praised UTL for taking the lead in spearheading such initiatives. “I am glad to officially launch this blood donation drive and call upon everyone to join us as we donate blood and save lives. I hope UTL will organize more of such activities and I pledge to render my support in all ways possible. I also call upon other companies to follow UTL’s example and engage in activities that are communally benefiting to all,” Ms. Anite remarked.

Mr. Bemanya Twebaze, the Administrator, Uganda Telecom thanked the minister for being a part of the drive and promised that through UTL’s CSR department, more of such activities will be held. He said “I thank the honorable minister for taking time off her busy schedule to be a part of this initiative.  I have a vibrant and dedicated staff at UTL and we are working together to ensure that such activities are continuous. We want to impact the lives of a large number of people, not just in Kampala, but countrywide. This blood donation drive is just one of the many CSR activities that we have planned.”

 

 

-Techjaja

NSSF introduces the a voluntary membership plan

By Waswa Deo

The National Social Security Fund has unveiled a voluntary membership plan that will provide employees and workers that are not compelled by the mandatory provisions of NSSF Act the opportunity to voluntarily save for their retirement.

The fund has introduced a mobile money platform  through which it will receive voluntary savings.

Speaking at the launch, NSSF Managing director Richard Byarugaba noted that the fund is responding to the need of voluntary saving by many Ugandans as well as enhancing the funds growth strategy in terms of membership and contributions.

He noted that the voluntary saving plan is targeting the potential customer base of close to 2 million workers who do not have any form of social security cover out of about 4 million Ugandans working in formal sector.

New Vivo energy boss affirms steady fuel supply for Ugandans ahead of Kenya elections

By Patricia Osman

Gilbert Assi, the newly appointed Managing director Vivo Energy Uganda, assures Ugandans that plans are in place to stock enough fuel as Kenya elections close in.

Speaking at his unveiling in Kampala Mr. Assi says there is no cause for alarm adding that they are watching the events carefully and are aware of the threats that come with such an exercise.

His comment comes at a time when Parliament’s Natural Resources committee advises Government to stock enough quantities of fuel ahead of the August 2017 Election in Kenya.

The legislators are optimistic that refilling the reserves will secure supply of petroleum products in the event of any disruptions and eventualities.

Mr Assi who takes over from Hans Paulsen had been group head of distribution.

He promises to keep the company at the number one position by continuing to invest heavily in areas of fuel quality, road safety, Education and environment protection.

Mr. Paulsen has now been promoted to a new senior role in the Vivo Energy Group where he will be working across all countries in Africa where Vivo Energy operates on a new project to improve the company’s business among others tasks.

TAXES ON CIGARETTES INCREASED BY PARLIAMENT AHEAD OF THE BUDGET READING

By Alice Lubwama

Parliament has passed the Excise duty amendment bill 2017 maintaining 20% excise duty on sugar confectioneries.

Under the new law, the excise duty on soft cap cigarettes locally manufactured has been increased from 50,000 shillings per 1000 sticks to 55000, while the excise duty on imported soft cap was increased from 50,000 to 75000.

The excise duty for imported hinge lid cigarettes has been fixed at 100, 000 shillings per 1000 sticks.

The excise duty on non-alcoholic beverages excluding fruit and vegetable juices was maintained at 240 shillings which is 13% .

Presenting the report of the parliamentary committee on finance, planning and economic development on the bill, the chairperson also Rubanda East MP Henry Musasizi said that Uganda currently has the highest excise duty on locally manufactured cigarettes in the region which affects its competitive advantage from the growth and investment point of view.

Photo Credit: JPR Arts