Parliament passes 40.5 trillion budget,works and transport ministry get the lion’s share

By Alice Lubwama
Parliament has passed a 40.5 trillion shillings budget for the next financial year 2019/2020.Next year’s budget is increasing by 20 percent compared to last year’s budget from 33 trillion shillings to 40.5 trillion shillings.

Ministry of Works and Transport takes the biggest share at 6.4trillion, Education 3.2trn while 3.1trillion has been allocated for interest payments.

Ministry of Energy will get 2.9 trillion, Health 2.5 trillion, security 3.6 trillion, Agriculture only one trillion, Justice and law and order sector will have 1.6 trillion, accountability 1.9 trillion.

Some of the ministries had a reduction in their funds and these include water and environment from 1.2 trillion to one trillion, lands and housing from 202 billion to 193 billion , science and technology 184 billion to 159 billion.

The parliament budget committee noted that Domestic and External Financing will constitute 74.5% and 25.5% of the total resource envelop respectively.

In this, the domestic revenue collections will stand at 29.4 trillion while eternal resources will yield 10trillionshillings.

Uganda Revenue authority is expected to collect 18trillion while 1.4trillionwill come from non tax revenue, other money will be attained from the petroleum fund 445bn, local government collections 201bn and domestic borrowing will yield 8.5b

Next year’s budget has had a 20 percent increment compared to last year’s budget from 33 trillion shillings to 40.5 trillion shillings.

In terms of Sect oral allocation, ministry of Works and Transport takes the biggest share at 6.4trn, Education 3.2trn while 3.1trn has been allocated for interest payment Ministry of Energy 2.9 trillion, Health 2.5 trillion, security 3.6 trillion, Agriculture one trillion, Justice and law and order 1.6 trillion, accountability 1.9 trillion.

Some of the ministries have received a reduction in their funds and these include water and environment from 1.2 trillion to one trillion, lands and housing from 202 billion to 193 billion , science and technology 184 billion to 159 billion.

The parliament budget committee notes that the Domestic and External Financing will constitute 74.5% and 25.5% of the total resource envelop respectively.

Financial institutions tipped on digital disruption

By Edwin Muhumuza

Eclectics International a technology savvy company transforming Africa through innovative, state of the art tailor-made software solutions for Banking, has advised business organizations engaged in electronic and mobile commerce to be customer focused in ensuring their needs are adequately met even as they integrate technology in business operations .

Paul Mbuga, the Managing Director of Kenyan founded financial technology firm, Eclectics International, while Interfacing with Ugandan bank executives says that growing income through traditional means is no longer sufficient and thus the need to engrain technology.

However introducing technology will require collaboration between vendors and banks. This leads to the question of what revenue sharing model both parties are comfortable with.

‘Majority of our organizations are appreciating that just doing what they know best is not sufficient and therefore they are saying may be 20,30 or 50% of their income line will be generated out of their traditional revenue model.’

In a bid to generate revenue Banks have been doing asset financing for quite some time including cars, machinery, equipment and others and yet software is an asset but it was difficult for them to accept .Mbuga said

Today with the advent of mobile enabled banking technology, that has gained popularity and is customer friendly ,financial Institutions have found out that they are not excellent in that line and that it is expensive to obtain operation licenses. Therefore the way about this is to partner with tech savvy companies .

‘Technology is so radically changing and so frequently that if you buy a license for one business, you will be required to pay a similar amount in order to implement it down the line or change or even upgrade the business model. So partnership comes in handy in a sense that a bank can continue to offer the responsibility line while a company like Eclectics embarks on offering technology, adaptability, continuous research and product support and so the easiest way is to partner on the long term revenue share. The bank does not need to book a depreciating asset in their book because it is more of a long term partnership. ’Mbuga noted.

With technology the question of user friendliness and customer satisfaction is key and in response to that all main participants on the panel agreed that that there was need to put the customer at the centre in getting their experience correct.

Paricipants have been cautioned to make wise choices in regard to who they deal with on matters of personal data, ensuring they plan right at the beginning to defend, detect and recover data in cases of fraud and ensure ethics and transparency is upheld.

To modern Chief Executives, they were tipped that change is inevitable and they need to reflect on whether they will be the ones driving that change or not adding that different vendors represent different solutions and that there is need for participants to define their own solutions in the digital era while considering partnership.

Members on the panel were Jean Swart, Claudius Kurtna, Eclectics MD Paul Mbuga, Red Hat’s Danie Thom and Silla Mulandi.

Eclectics International has been operational for over 10 years and enables financial institutions increase their efficiency and effectiveness by developing, deploying and supporting their proprietary custom made solutions.

Its key focus is in areas of financial inclusion where they partnered with a number of institutions to assist them reach the population at the bottom of the pyramid with financial products that suit them without asking them to conform to conventional banking modalities which are foreign to them. Through this, it boasts of the number of lives that have been reached and changed in the millions across the continent .

Government directs wetland encroachers to vacate

By Moses Kidandi

The Government has asked all people living in wetlands to vacate and find alternative places for accommodation.

Finance minister Martia Kasaija made the remarks as the ministry of finance and other Government agencies embarked on a tree planting exercise in Kampala today.

The exercise is part of several activities by Government departments meant to observe the National Budget months for the financial year 2019/2020.

The minister who presided over the Environmental restoration tree planting exercise around Kampala says living in the water path is the main cause of flooding and wetland degradation.

In 1995, Uganda made history as the second country worldwide, after Canada, to pass a wetlands policy.The National Policy for the Conservation and Management of Wetlands is based on five objectives which revolve around the principles of sustainability, improving wetlands productivity and diversity and good governance.

However, fresh reports indicate several wetlands in Uganda have been encroached upon which is having a negative impact on the environment.
The minister has urged all homesteads to plant at least three trees in each home so as to restore the green cover and secure safety of persons against heavy winds that destroy homes.

Arch Bishop Odama speaks out on Government laxity on funding martyr’s day celebrations

BY Moses Kidandi

The Archbishop of Gulu, Rt. Rev John Baptist Odama has expressed concern over government’s shrinking motivation on contributing towards the organization of the Uganda Martyrs day celebrations.

Responding to questions from the journalists during the final briefing on the preparations for this year’s celebration, His Grace Odama says that they had expected almost a billion shillings or a half of the budget as a contribution from government but were surprised that it managed to send in only UGX80m.

Few years ago, government gazetted and elevated the Uganda Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo as national tourist sites to the international level of pilgrimage sites and also committed its self to always take part in activities of commemorating the Martyrs day on every June 3rd.

Gulu Archdiocese, the animator of this year’s celebrations budgeted UGX900M for the organization which is yet to be fully raised with almost 40 percent of the balance.

However, Odama welcomes the contribution from government, the public and other sectors urging those with pledges to honor them to enable the church realize the essential items budgeted for the success of the event.

Meanwhile, He reemphasized on discouraging the use of Kaveera at the Uganda Martyrs Catholic Shrine during the forthcoming Martyrs day cerebration.

UCC suspension directive stopped

By Sania Babirye
Kampala High court judge Lydia Mugambe has issued an interim injunction stopping media houses from implementing a directive from Uganda Communication Commission to suspend 39 journalists until final determination of their case

Justice Mugambe has noted that if the directive is not stopped it will impact the rights of journalists.

She has further stated that although she has put into consideration UCCs regulatory mandate, she says that the mandate should mot be uses to curtail the human rights and freedoms of the media.

She has further ruled that much as she is mindful of the regulatory mandate of UCC and national security , the two cannot be used as excuse to tamp on human Rights.

Justice Mugambe has also wondered why a case of possible incitement of violence was reported to UCC and not the Directorate of Criminal intelligence of Police.

She has also described the said directive as a rush decision that was undertaken by UCC and also dismissed the resolutions that were reached up in the meeting by UCC’s with media house managers that took place on the 7th of May 2019.

In the said meeting it was resolved that the 39 journalists merely step aside instead of being suspended until the investigations are complete.

But justice Mugambe has stated the said resolutions are meat to defeat justice because there was an already pending case in court filed on the 2nd of May 2019 .

Following the court injunction, the said suspended journalists who had been ordered to step aside from their duties as producers, Head of newsrooms, production and programming following can now resume their duties until court orders otherwise .

Meanwhile the main case will be heard on Tuesday next week.

On the 16th of this month, the Uganda Communication commission asked justice Lydia Mugambe to not issue an interim order stopping the 30th April directive suspending head of programming, producers and News managers of 13 media houses.

UCC lawyers led by Abdul Salam Waiswa and Mastiko told justice Mugambe that if the interim injunction is issued, it will undermine UCCs Authority to regulate Media houses.
These then asked court to maintain the directive of the alleged 39 journalists to be given other roles until on going investigations are complete.
The journalist body(UJA) says the UCC directive is
disproportionate, excessive, unconstitutional and that in doing so UCC exceeded the powers vested in the media council.

Through its two members, calling themselves concerned citizens are seeking an interim injunction against a directive of the Uganda Communication Commission until their main case is heard and disposed off.

The petitioners include Bwire Arnold and Henry Byansi.

According to the duo who calls themselves Human rights activists and advocates of the rule of law among other things, the UCC directive was unfair and unjust since UCC did not act fairly yet by law its mandated to be fair and just.

The media houses affected included Capital radio and its sister radio beat FM.

Get enough rest and do your homework: Principal Kato to Fresh Kid

By Annah Nafula

Infant musician Patrick Ssenyonjo also known Fresh Kid has today been enrolled at Kampala Parent’s School, Naguru. Ssenyonjo who commences school on Wednesday is grateful to the Ruperelia Foundation for heeding to his voice when he said he wanted to back to school but could not afford.

While speaking at a Presser, School Principal Daphine Kato intimated that she was excited about Fresh Kid’s new journey at the school. She told the press that Fresh Kid had gone through the right procedures to join the school which included an oral and written interview which she says, he performed well. “I am positive that Ssenyonjo will enjoy the music facilities at the school and pay equal attention to his education.” said Kato. She added that she cannot rule out the excitement that will come with having a celebrity pupil but expects it to calm down later. She also assured the parents and managers of the young singing sensation that once this anticipated excitement ends, Ssenyonjo will be treated like the rest of the pupils.

At the same event, teenage star Gloria Mulungi also Known as Baby Gloria asked Fresh Kid to be humble and concentrate on his education. “I am proud to be a singer and a brilliant child at school.” she boasted. Baby Gloria who is in her 13th Grade at Taibah International School said Fresh Kid is a force to reckon.

Betty Nakibuuka, who is also a mother to Baby Gloria highlighted that they are very many challenges in raising a celebrity child. She urged the Ssenyonjo’s parents to be grounded and raise their child humbly. “As a mother to a celebrity child, I often have to remind her of the dangers of pride. I do not let her come from school without the administration’s consent because I appreciate the value of education.” Said Nakibuuka.
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Kampala Parents School old student and popular singer Raba Daba praised Fresh Kid’s art and encouraged him to keep in school to attain an education. He added that with a good education like Fresh Kid has got a chance to attain, he will be much bigger and better artist.

Swangz Avenue boss, Benon Mugumbya at the same meeting appreciated the Ruperelia Foundation for having invested in the music industry this way. According to him, educating this child and not isolating him for his talent is a way in the right direction to promote Ugandan talent.

Months back, Patrick Ssenyonjo alias Fresh Kid stormed the media like a wild fire when he was fronted as a new child wrapper which caused an array of mixed reactions from the public. While some thought he was too young for the trade, others thought he was just a great child doing his music.

As Fresh Kid sinks into the savor of this mega offer, Ruperelia Foundation’s Mary said though she is positive that Fresh Kid will excel in his studies, some of the conditions of this scholarship include, being available for classes at all times and maintaining good grades, being drug free among others.

Lira Regional Referral Hospital Struggles to Manage Pre-Eclampsia Cases

By Deo Wasswa

Lira Regional Referral hospital is struggling to manage expectant mothers with pre-eclampsia condition.

Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy disorder characterized by hypertension especially after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The condition is the second cause of maternal deaths worldwide and the leading cause of maternal deaths at Mulago National Referral hospital.

The facility that receives about 100 expectant mothers on a daily basis for antenatal care, has only one blood pressure machine which is used to detect the condition.

Sister Judith Nanyonjo, a Senior Principle Nursing Offer at Lira Regional Referral hospital says that lack of enough blood pressure machines has often impeded their struggle to detect and manage the condition. On average from the open market a blood pressure machine costs about Shs. 200,000. Nanyonjo says that lack of BP machines means that some pregnant mothers will miss being diagnosed of the condition. She however says that the facility has resorted to borrowing BP machines from intern doctors but this is not reliable as they leave the facility after their training. She however notes that the hospital is engaging the ministry of health to get a solution.

The facility registers over 70 mothers annually with pre-eclampsia condition.

Nanyonjo also notes that the hospital lacks designated pre-eclampsia and a postnatal ward to accommodate over 20 deliveries daily.

She adds that the ward also faces a challenge of lack of patient trolleys to transfer mothers to and from the theater.

This was during the World Pre-eclampsia day commemoration that was organized by Coalition for Health Promotion and Social Development (HEPS-Uganda) on Wednesday at Lira Regional Referral hospital.

The day is commemorated worldwide with an aim of sensitizing the public about the condition.

Susan Aciro, a midwife at Lira Regional Referral hospital says that she suffered from pre-eclampsia and she was operated in her sixth month of pregnancy. She says that she was able to survive because she was closely monitored her blood pressure.

According to Beatrice Nyangoma, the Communications Officer for HEPS-Uganda, government should consider regulating prices for magnesium sulphate to improve affordability, availability and accessibility. In 2018, HEPS-Uganda conducted a survey which indicated that out of the 145 public, private and mission health facilities, only 53 had magnesium sulphate in stock.

In March 2019, Dr. Isaac Orec the in charge of Amach Health Center IV, said they had only one BP machine but they have finally procured six more which has improved detection of the condition.

UBL Cautions Customers on Imitated Automotive Batteries.

By Edwin Muhumuza

Uganda Batteries Limited (UBL), the leading manufacturer of automotive and solar batteries has urged its customers to be on the lookout for imitations of its automotive batteries on the market.

The Marketing Director UBL, Moses Zizinga, said,’’ the design, shape, size and logo is identical to us and we believe with such a product on the market it will create confusion in the face of customers.”

He added, ‘We are not against competition because its healthy, it helps us to improve but we are against imitation just like any manufacturer.”

Late last year, NBL, a new player into the market started making imitation batteries with the name NBL. The product features are identical to those of UBL in design, shape, logo, and sizes which make it possible for customers to be duped into buying undesired products unknowingly.

‘’On 3rd May 2019 we secured a court injunction to this effect which was prohibiting the use of NBL batteries on the market in terms of producing them or distributing them until this injunction is done away with.’’ Zizinga revealed.

UBL Head of Legal , Marvin Mulinde noted that the only challenge was that anything that comes out that creates a perception that will make the market believe that it is something else other than what it is ,is why they decided to take the matter to court.

‘building a brand takes a lot of time and investment and once you do it you would want it to continue to keep the organization going and that is why we believe that the UBL brand is a strong brand and we would want to continue promoting that brand in its own strength.’

Uganda boasts of a liberal business environment that encourages competition and new players in the market which comes with huge economic benefits for the country including; jobs creation, more taxes to government for the country’s development, heightened creativity and innovation for businesses to stand out and of course, competitive pricing for the benefit of the consumer.

However the, growth in the industry, equally comes with some challenges that if not addressed, can deter healthy competition and delivery of outstanding value to customers including unfair competition, product imitation and a host of other things that could affect business operations.

Mr. Zizinga, provided tips on how UBL’s customers can quickly identify the company’s authentic batteries; Checking for the logo with the letters UBL, Checking for the yellow top vent plugs Checking for the battery’s engraved code and unique series number.

UMEME disconnects power for over 10000 residents Kasokoso

By Moses Kidandi

Power distributor UMEME has disconnected over ten thousand residents of Kasokoso in Kiira division over reports of power theft and illegal connections that have reportedly put their lives in danger.

The action that has led to total darkness and fear of rising cases of insecurity has culminated into a meeting between the Residents of Kasokoso,UMEME officials and Security officials led by the resident district commissioner Kiira division. The meeting held this afternoon at Kireka rehabilitation center was meant to iron out differences arising from power theft that had put peoples lives in danger and led to energy losses.

According to UMEME 90 percent of the power distributed to Kasokoso is lost to power theft and damaging of transformers due to over loading.

In today’s meeting chaired by the Deputy RDC Kiira Division Sesamba Joseph, all stake holders agreed to regularise power connections which UMEME has offered to assist free of charge.

The UMEME area manager Michael Oputo has announced a one month amnesty to all residents who have been connected illegally to pay only 29000 to enable them be on regular supply which money in turn will be given to them in form of energy.

COSASE grills NIRA over delayed registration for National IDs

By Alice Lubwama

The parliamentary committee on commissions, statutory Authorities and state enterprises has grilled officials from the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) over the slow registration of persons seeking for National Identification cards.

The committee presided over by Busiro East Leislator Medard Sseggona was interfacing with NIRA officials led by its executive Director Judy Obitre Gama over the audit queries for the financial year 2017/18.

Members of Parliament are concerned that a few officers are deployed to conduct the exercise despite a big number of persons assembling and waiting for registration .

Sseggona pinned the NIRA bosses of delaying this exercise into order to create a loophole for its officials to solicit for bribes from the persons looking for registration.

The members also asked NIRA to plant some spies among its enrollment officers to detect those asking for bribes from the people to be registered.

The members observed that some NIRA enrollment officers ask a bribe between 5000 to 1000,000 shillings for people to be registered.

However, NIRA executive director Judy Gama said that the authority has made arrests of some its officers involved in the alleged bribes and they are now waiting for prosecution.

The committee has resolved to move to the registration centers and interface with people to examine the performance of this project and alleged bribe.

There has been a public out cry over delayed registration and insurance of national identify cards by NIRA.