Bank of Uganda losses worry MPs

By Edwin Muhumuza

The parliamentary Finance committee has expressed concern as to why Bank of Uganda is making losses , a trend that is affecting the national reserves.

The committee heard that the central bank had invested Uganda’s reserves in Europe ,a move which did not yield any profits following the negative interest rates.

The revelation was made by officials led by Dr. Adam Mugume, Executive Director of Research, at Bank of Uganda while appearing before legislators to account for another 450bn shillings for re-capitalization.

Mugume told the committee that currently Uganda’s reserves have been invested in the United states of America,whose market offers an interest rate of 2%.

This though did not go well with members of the committee chaired by Hon.Paul Musasizi ,Member of Parliament, Rubanda County East Kigezi Sub Region amid concerns stemming from the conservative investment approach of the central bank with eyes on overseas financial markets.

Uganda has reserves now amounting to US $32billion but these could be swept away in a blink of an eye following poor investment decisions, warned the director of research.

During the interface, Amos Lugolobi ,a member of the committee and chair of the budget committee of parliament wondered why the central bank was adding to Uganda’s debt burden with such demands even after over 200bn was advanced to the bank in the previous financial year for re-capitalization.

Among the central bank’s expenses include monitory policy infrastructure, increased use of garnish orders, and high costs of currency infrastructure.

The Auditor General’s report 2018 notes that Uganda’s debt to GDP ratio of 41 per cent is still below the International Monetary Fund (IMF) risky threshold of 50 per cent and compares well with other East African countries. However economic analysts challenge that figure stating that the country is already well above the threshold with estimates at 55% which they say is unfavourable compared to national revenue collected which is the highest in the region at 54 percent”.

Concerns have always been about the sustainability of debt, taking in more commercial loans, whose conditionalities are probably not very conducive for Uganda as a developing country.

Meanwhile Parliament has resolved to have a national dialogue with officials from Bank of Uganda and the ministry of finance about the fate of Uganda’s economy more so over the ever increasing national debt as a result of multi-year programs that need constant funding as well as supplementary expenditure.

BAT gross revenue hits shs.86.2 BN mark

By Edwin Muhumuza

British American Tobacco Uganda has posted gross revenues of Ushs 86.2 billion and a profit before tax of Ushs 9.7 billion.This in its half year results for the six months ended 30 June 2019.

BAT Uganda Managing Director, Mathu Kiunjuri said that in the first half of 2019, gross revenue increased by 17% to Ushs 86.2 billion driven by growth in volumes due to distribution efficiencies and portfolio transformation. Profit from operations increased by 11% to Ushs 9.8 billion due to the growth in revenues, partly offset by higher cost of operations.

The increase in cost of operations was in line with volume growth, inflationary increases and additional investment in the brand portfolio.

Profit before tax increased by 9% to Ushs 9.7 billion in line with growth in revenues, offset by finance lease costs recognised in line with revised accounting standards said Kiunjuri.

BAT Uganda Chairman, Hon. Elly Karuhanga said in as much as contribution to Government revenues in the form of Excise Duty, Value Added Tax and Corporation Tax increased by 19% to Ushs 50.2 billion, illicit trade in tax- evaded tobacco products continues to pose a threat to Government revenues and shareholder value.

According to third party research findings, the market saw an increase in illicit tax-evaded cigarette sales in the first quarter of this year, standing at 22.2%,translating into an estimated loss in Government revenue of UShs 30 billion annually.

“Whilst we applaud the Government of Uganda for steps taken to address the cost of doing business in this market, we reiterate that the trade in illicit tax-evaded cigarettes continues to pose a threat to the legitimate tobacco industry and sustainability of Government revenues,” He noted.

Karuhanga also expressed confidence in the exceptional quality of talent within the Company and partnerships with over 30,000 business partners, as the right strategy to deliver business growth and continued value to all stakeholders.

Kasaija warns against giving government officials unpaid trips on Uganda Airlines

By Deo Waswa

Minister for Finance, Matia Kasaijja has warned the management of Uganda airlines to avoid doing any mistakes that may lead the company to collapse.

Kasaija cited incidents where some government officials may use their position to influence the company to fly them on half payments or on loans.

Once such habits are allowed by the Uganda airlines management, the company will start to operate in debts and eventually collapse.

He has asked them that once such incident happen where any government official want to travel with Uganda airline before paying, the management should immediately inform the ministry of finance and find the solution which will include cutting their salaries.

Kasaija made the remarks while receiving the certificate of air operating license that Uganda airline acquired last Friday to start conducting regional flight.

Absence of quality standard hurting Uganda companies

By Edwin Muhumuza

The lack of standards is affecting delivery of goods and services by Ugandan companies. The trend cuts across all sectors such manufacturing ,agriculture ,transport ,health among others.This concern came to the fore during a breakfast meeting on the impact of standards in the delivery of products and services.

This was revealed by AG Quality consultants, a leading quality consulting firm during a quality management systems dialogue with several business stakeholders in Kampala as part of the world accreditation day activities.

It emerged that Ugandan Health Care continues to suffer setbacks in regard to the quality of diagnostics and laboratory services which are not internationally accepted.

Chief Executive Officer ,Kilian Songwe speaking at the event noted that standards are what leverage businesses in the fast changing world.

For a long time government and business experts have decried the informal nature of businesses and the lack of willingness to adopt corporate governance in majority of them by owners. Relatedly,it is a common concern for consumers to complain about varying quality of specific products on the market.

Songwe noted that “compliance is the price you pay for admission”adding that accreditation ensures impartiality,competence and consistence.He said continuous improvement is a must and that risk management was becoming an element of standards.

Patricia Bageine Ejalu, the Deputy Executive Director for Technical Operations Uganda National Bureau of Standards said there is need for companies to adopt technical committees to ensure quality requirements are observed adding that ,” the Implementation of standards is not rocket science”.

Amid the urge and the push to do global business by Ugandan companies,the demand for quality is high and some of them have failed to penetrate the international market further worsening the country’s trade balance.

Uganda’s economic backbone is agriculture but the sector too is faced with many challenges that stem from High cost of investment/finance,Inadequate physical infrastructure to support the sector, Poor farming techniques,Limited access to quality farm inputs, Too much relying on rain,Lack of marketing data and information,Inadequate production and post harvest technologies all which are linked to a lack of quality management systems at production level all through the value chain.

Stanbic Bank head of Agri-business,Richard Wangwe,said that the excessive wastage of Ugandan produce which normally is perishable is as a result of a lack of quality standards and thus continues to lead to has led to loss of food and vegetables,further calling for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices.

Additionally he noted that exporters do not earn much from their exported produce due to absence of standards.‘Hazards occur at all stages of the food chain and there it becomes important to address food safety and production at firm level.’

Chief Guest Dr. Elly Karuhanga, Chairman Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum tipped participants on the importance of Oil & Gas Standards in the delivery of products and services noting that the sector is driven by standards and nothing else.This as government urges Ugandans to produce local content for the sector whilst the industry demand s for standards.

Nelson Ofwono,a local content development expert advised the business community to bench mark all their systems be it management,operations,production among others on the oil and gas sector.

Metropol introduces new reference for borrowers and Banks

By Moses Kidandi

Metropol introduces new reference for borrowers and Banks/Financial institutions.

Metropol Credit reference Bureau has launched a new products delivery platform,the first of its kind in Uganda that will enable borrowers have control of their credit information by having direct access to Bureau products conveniently at their disposal via their mobile phones.

Sam Omukoko-Managing Director Metropol says with the use of Metropol Crystobol, borrowers will no longer have to save for 6 months to be able to get a loan because the bureau will already have your financial and Credit profile.

He adds that by the public using the facility,they will also have instant access to their credit profile before seeking a loan from the Bank or financial Institution.

Metropol Crystobol will help users have easy access to finances,employment and markets as it will have detailed account of one’s lifetime borrowing with all current credit providers and their performance in terms of repayment.

Sam Omukoko says the information on the Metropol Cystobol platform will also enable lenders determine loan approvals to customers.The Official launch will be in November this year.

Central bank hopes new regulations will improve digital banking

By Alice Lubwama

The central bank is working on regulations that will improve digital banking in the country.

While speaking at the launch of Brac Uganda bank limited,the director in charge of national payments in the central bank, Mackey Aumo said that the regulations will enable to stream line the business and also allow different players to participate in money transfer and lending .

Uganda is the first county in Africa to have Brac bank.

Brac has been operating in Uganda as micro finance institution since 2006,providing financial services to low income communities.

The institution has 163 branches in 84 districts of Uganda with over 200,000 customers.

The executive director of Brac Uganda Jimmy Adiga said that they will target the house holds through women and youth because they are committed to work.

Adiga adds that they will also provide micro insurance to all it’s customers.

Adiga also said that they have upgraded 32 out of their 163 outlets in Uganda to meet the required bank of Uganda standards for tier2 institutions.

According to bank of Uganda rating tier2 are credit institutions but not fully fledged commercial banks.

Brac is the 4th tier2 credit institution in Uganda joining mercantile credit bank,post bank, and opportunity bank .

New banker’s partnership to strengthen agency banking

By Daudi Zirimala

The Uganda Bankers Association (UBA) has signed a partnership with International Financial Cooperation (IFC) intended to drive financial inclusion in the country through agency banking.

According to the Managing Director UBA Wilbrod Owor Hamphrey, in this partnership IFC has injected in 1.9 million Us dollars in supporting Agent banking system, enhancing product proposition by enabling citizens access their bank accounts.

He noted that currently financial inclusion is the way to go and achieving this, Uganda bankers Association has registered 8805 approved agents across the country who can help Ugandans to open up bank accounts at anytime and starting giving out mobile money loans using bank agents in the country.

“The shared agent platform is a leading concept in the region in terms of reducing cost of doing business in the banking sector,” says Wilbrod.

Speaking at the signing of the partnership the IFC Regional Director East Africa Jumoke Jagun Dokunmu said that a third of the Ugandan population have access to bank accounts ,which is not good enough to reach financial inclusion.

She said that financial inclusion practices have a positive trajectory in Africa due to the development of digital financial services and innovations like agent banking system.

IFC will continue supporting various developments in Uganda through innovations like this to enable government achieve its goal of private sector development and prosperity to the people of Uganda said Jumoke.

New board members of Investment authority asked to screen investors

By Moses Kidandi

Seven members of the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) board that was recently appointed by the Finance Minister Matia Kasaija has been inaugurated.

The seven were appointed following the presidential assent to the new Investment act which among other things led to the reduction of the UIA board members from 13 to seven.

While presiding over the inauguration ceremony held at the UIA board room today, the state minister for investment and privatization Evelyn Anite tasked them to attract high quality foreign direct investments in the country.

Anite said the authority has been fond of attracting quack investors a vice that must stop.

She said the investors must be able to add value to the country’s natural resources and also provide decent jobs to Ugandans.

The minister also cautioned the new UIA board members against corruption or risk their contracts being terminated.

Down town building owners and traders raw deepens

By Sania Babirye
Land Division High court judge Alexanderia Rugardya Nkonge has refused to allow Kampala lord Mayor Erias Lukwago to cross examine Kampala businessmen Drake Lubega and Mansur Matovu (Younger) in a case filed by the Traders demanding for an independent account to deposit their rent arias until court determines who manages the buildings .

Justice Nkonge has ruled that this might pre-empty the main case before her in which Horizon Coaches sued the two businessmen for illegally occupying its buildings.

The case had come up for hearing, but the judge instead ordered all parties to file in their written submissions since one of the correspondents (Horizon Coaches) had not filed in their reply.

The judge has also set to give its ruling on the matter on notice.

Meanwhile, the Uganda Bus Operators Association Ltd has also claimed ownership of Qualicel bus terminal and has since issued a note dated 15th of April 2019 demanding rent from the Traders.

According to Uganda Bus Operators Association chairperson Hamim Ssetongo, he holds the legitimate title of the building and that none of the three businessmen is allowed to operate from them .

On the 12th of this month, the Traders on the three building being claimed by Drake Lubega, Mansur Matovu, the late Muhangi Family and now UBOA withdrawn their case from the high court civil division and filed it before the the High court Land division following the mysterious way in which the case file was allocated to a new judge without their knowledge.

Through their lawyer Erias Lukwago, the traders contended that their case file was first case listed before Justice Musa Ssekana and was set for hearing on the 8th of this month but when it came for hearing, they were surprised to see that tge original judge was dropped and replaced bu justice Andrew Bashaijja without their knowledge.

The traders claimed that they were not getting justice before justice Bashaija and asked for their file transfer.

As a result, Justice Bashaijja accepted their request but for the second time ordered that the frustrated traders pay costs to the businessmen because they had incurred costs along the way through hiring lawyers to represent them in the high court.

The businessmen also said they are demanding a 2 billion compensation from the Traders since they their lawyer Lukwago did not follow the right procedures in withdrawing the case.

On the 10th of April the same judge (Basaijja) ordered the Traders to pay costs to the businessmen after dismissing their application with costs in which they wanted court to allow another file before the ongoing land division to be added to this current file before the high court civil division.

The three buildings include Qualicel, Nabukeera and Jamboree all located at downtown Kampala.

Justice Bashaijja dismissed Lukwago’s application in which he wanted to appeal a ruling that had denied him a chance to amend his pleadings before the court.

The case had came up for hearing and during his submissions, Lukwago had asked court to allow him to add an application that is before the Land division to be part of that in the civil division of the High court.

Justice Bashaijja instead declined Lukwago’s submissions and ordered that the application be heard as it is.

The 291 traders through their lawyer Erias Lukwago had petitioned the court to allow them to deposit their rent arias on an independent account until court determined who owned and managed the said buildings.

The Traders want to deposit rent monies with a safe account in court until court decides on who of the three warring parties including Drake Lubega , Mansur Matovu and the management of Horizon Coaches formerly belonging to the late businessman Charles Muhangi owns and manages the said buildings .

The buildings are currently being claimed by city businessmen Drake Lubega, Mansur Matovu alias Young and the late rally driver Charles Muhangi through his Horizone coaches ltd.

On the 2nd of April, 291 the traders filled their suit escorted by Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago asking court to summon the warring factions to appear before court and clarify on who is the real owner and manager of the contentious buildings.

Currently, both Lubega and Mansur are claiming ownership of the building following the sudden and abrupt death of Muhangi in February this year to whom the traders were paying their rent arrears too.

These have since informed the traders that the buildings belongs to them not the late Muhangi whom the supreme court had declared owner of the buildings.

And worse still the now new owners and managers are forcing the traders to not only pay their current arrears to them, but also repay five months arrears that they had paid to Muhangi when he was still alive.

These have also gone ahead and closed the shops of those traders who are not willing to clear to them the already rent arrears that they had paid to the late Muhangi which has seen traders protesting.

However, the traders insist that they do not know who is the real owner and manger of the buildings to whom they should pay rent too since the court had declared that Muhangi owned the said buildings and he was doing so until his sudden death.

The traders also insist that if court clarifies on the rightful owner, that they are willing to pay the rent arias to him starting with the new months (February) but not even the past five months that they had paid to Muhangi through Horizon Coaches ltd as being demanded by the alleged new owners.

According to the traders, the supreme court placed the management of the three buildings under Horizon Coaches ltd on the 5th of November 2018.

These further claim that after the supreme court order, the buildings were renovated and renamed Horizon city and Bazanya Nengo respectively and each tenant was ordered to pay a 1.2 million shillings as registration fee which they cleared .

They further state that the tenants have since then been paying rent fees ranging from 400, 000 to 3 million shillings to Horizon Coaches until some time in February this year when both Drake Lubega and Mansur Matovu showed up each claiming ownership and management of the 3 buildings.

The traders say that apart from the two claiming owners hiring stick wielding men and security to beat them, these have also turned off electricity and other utilities and locking their shops and threatened to evict any trader who wi continue with paying their rent arrears to Horizon Coaches.

These are now asking court to issue an injunction stopping the 2 businessmen from further trespassing and interfering with their business premises until issues of management are clarified and settled by court .

They also want court to order Drake Lubega and Mansur Matovu to pay them General damages for loss of business and inconvenience after the two closed their shops yet they had cleared their due rent arrears.

On the 21st of March this year the traders closed their shops and protested after their power was switched off by allegedly Young after they refused to pay the double rent.

These were also demanding an independent account on which they should pay their rent because they were tired of paying rent to one person and then after someone else comes and claims to be the real owner of the building.

It took Kampala central Member of Parliament Muhammad Nsereko’s intervention to have the power turned on and promised to take the traders grievances to Parliament fir redress.

President Museveni asks Teso farmers to utilize new fruit factory

By Moses Kidandi

President Yoweri Museveni has advised the people of Teso Sub-Region in Eastern Uganda to continue growing fruits because it is the medicine that will rid them of of household poverty and the venture commands global market as well.

The President was speaking at the launch of the commercial operations for Soroti Fruit Factory in Arapai Sub-County, Aloet village in Soroti District.

The factory that was financed by the Government of Uganda through the Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) while the Korean National Cooperation Agency (KOICA) contributed US$7.4 million and employs about 150 people directly in the plant and about 1,000 farmers in the region.

President Museveni is now encouraging the people of Teso who had small land to stop growing cotton and go for fruits, dairy farming and fish farming because they are the products that can give money on a small scale piece of land.

Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Minister, Hon. Amelia Kyambadde, said that the launching of the fruit factory was a milestone in the revival of the economy. She added that the facility was the fulfillment of the NRM Manifesto of 2006. She thanked President Museveni for his support and political will.

The facility currently makes orange and mango juice and the future plans entail making a variety of fruit juices.
The Factory currently produces 96 metric tonnes of mango and orange juice per day but in its full operation, will employ 250 people directly in the factory and over two million in the production chain links in the Teso Sub-Region.