Civil society organizations aim at tackling income inequality

By Deo Wasswa

Non-governmental organizations which includes, OXFARM and Uganda women’s Network demand that government works on Tangible and deliberate actions to build a people centered economy that works for all.

According to the two organizations, this will address the increased income inequality where the country is dominated by few rich and the rest of bigger percentage is extremely poor.

According to Ritah Aciro, the Executive Director Uganda women’s Network,the government will need to put in place policies where rich people pay their fair share of taxes, investing in appropriate infrastructure that will lead to reduction and redistribution of unpaid and domestic work between men and woman, girls and boys, the state and private sector.

The two organizations’ voices come in line with the ongoing World Economy Forum meeting In Davos –Switzerland where the world leaders are meeting to engage on political, business, cultural aspects to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

Stella Nyanzi earns big behind bars

Makerere researcher Stella Nyanzi is UGX50Million richer after High Court Civil Division awarded her the hearty sum for the violation of her rights by the government.

The award stems from an application challenging the infringement of her fundamental human right when the government secretly placed her name on a “no-fly list” and confiscated her passport.

Nyanzi was blocked from leaving the country on March 19, 2017, to attend a scholarly conference in Amsterdam. By the time of the action, Nyanzi had already checked in at Entebbe International Airport, but she could not get clearance from the immigration desk.

During the time police said it was investigating a possible case of offensive communication and cyber harassment against Nyanzi and she was required to assist police investigations, according to a letter from the Makerere University Vice-Chancellor.

In a subsequent complaint to Joseph Obwona, the Deputy Director of the Criminal Investigations Department, Stella Nyanzi indicated that her passport and boarding passes had been confiscated making her unable to travel. She demanded in vain to be removed from the no-fly list prompting her to run to court for redress.

In her application, Dr Nyanzi sought special damages for the infringement on her rights, lost transport, visa fees, air ticket and hotel booking.

In a judgment delivered on Monday, Lady Justice Henrietta Wolayo found the state in breach of article 24 of the constitution, which provides for respect to human dignity and protection from inhumane treatment. She added that the act of preventing Dr Nyanzi from travelling was an unnecessary interference with her right to enter and leave the country at will.

She added that the decision to block Dr Nyanzi was meant to embarrass her because she was eventually cleared to travel, although it was late for her to catch the flight.

She issued orders restraining the government from preventing Dr Nyanzi from leaving the country or embarrassing her at a port of entry or departure. Justice Wolayo however, declined to grant the applicant special damages on transport, visa fees, air ticket and hotel booking since her lawyers from the Centre for Legal Aid dropped the prayers during the hearing.

Source:URN

Kadaga warns government against inadequate research

BY Alice Lubwama

The speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga warns government ministries to carry out adequate research on bills before they present them to parliament for consideration.

While opening the 4th session of 10th parliament at serena hotel this afternoon Kadaga said that government withdrawn four bills from parliament because of lack of research and consultations from the various stake holders.” I want to express my disappointment that in the number of areas there was obvious manifestation of lack of adequate preparedness and consultation to stake holders at formulation stage of these bills and this wasted parliament’s time.

The speaker said that she was particularly disturbed by Government’s failure to process the Kampala capital city authority bill since 2015.

The speaker has also asked the executive to bring all business it considers important in the first two weeks of this session especially those on electoral reforms, saying that parliament will transact business for limited time because MPs will focus more in their constituents because the road map for the next election is already out.

“Members are usually uncomfortable around this time and they focus on what is happening in their constituents, it is therefore necessary that the executive brings all business it deems important with in the first two months so that it can be processed by committees and later considered by the house.Kadaga said

Kadaga also commended MPs for their dedication to parliament work during the last session compared to the previous one.

She noted that parliament of Uganda passed the highest number of 26 bills in the 3rd session ended compared to other countries in the region.

“During this session we have supersede all other parliaments in that we enacted 26 bills as compared to 11 in the first session and 17 in the second session ,we had the highest number in the region.’’ She noted.

The speaker has also warned accounting officers of government ministries and agencies to stop funding committee work yet these are supposed to monitor their performance. Kadaga has threatened to report such accounting officers to the head of public service to take action against them.

NITA-U launches the E-government Excellence Awards

By Patricia Osman
In a bid to enhance service delivery through use of E government ,the National Technology Authority has launched the NITA E-govt Excellence Awards under the theme Bold Digital Governemnt;Unlocking Service Delivery.

The month long celebration during the month of June will see an Expo for government services held from the 20-21st at Garden City roof top followed by a glamorous awards ceremony on the 27th of June 2019.

NITA-U executive director James Saka said the main objective of the awards is to share experiences with various govt entities across the country with a vision of innovative administration, access of information and enhanced service delivery through the application of e-govt.

The environment is ripe for the govt to have an expanded online presence. Citizens can now access information easier with more that 70% of Ugandans having mobile phones, 98%of government offices having fully functional websites; 319 government applications are up and running. 81% e government services are accessible through the e-citizens portal www.ecitizen.go.ug. The national backbone infrastructure stretches over 3000 kilometers across 60 towns, connecting 415 government offices, Ssaka added.

Speaking at same event Peter Kahiigi director E govt services says according to the United Nations e-government survey of 2018, Uganda’s online service index improved from 50% in 2016 to 57% in 2018 which puts the country in the high online service index bracket. The survey also indicated that Uganda’s e-government development index(EGDI) improved from 36% in 2016 to 41% in 2018 which is above the African average of34% adding that Uganda is currently ranked number one in Africa in cyber security by the global national cyber security index.

Mr. Ssaka further says their aim is to continue enabling the lives of Ugandan citizens by demystifying the concept of the use of ICT through the provision of reliable and consistent online government services. These awards will recognize the strides made in that journey, he adds.

The awards will be preceded by a four week campaign which will focus on sensitizing the government and private sectors on the critical role ICTs play in transforming service delivery, job creation and accelerating socio-economic development. The campaign will include an exhibition dubbed the e-government expo that will provide an opportunity for government ministries departments, and agencies to show case government online services. The Expo will also attract innovators, academia, Fintech to show case their prospects for digital governance.

Global firm Ernest and young will ensure that there is a high caliber adjudication and quality assurance,there by delivering a credible reputable vetting process.

New income tax amendment rejects government proposal to tax losses

By Alice Lubwama
Parliament has passed the income tax amendment bill rejecting government proposal to begin taxing companies that have been making losses for the past seven years.

The Uganda revenue authority had proposed an amendment in the Income Tax Act to introduce a tax penalty for a companies which report losses for a consecutive period of seven years of income on gross turnover for every year.

The state minister for finance in charge of planning David Bahati argued that the amendment would be critical at limiting revenue losses that occurs when a business that is making profit takes advantage of an assessed loss to avoid paying revenue for years.

Although majority of MPs on the Finance Committee Okayed the move to tax loss making companies, but budadiri west MP Nandala Mafabi rejected the move authoring a minority report and warned the Executive against creating an Act called Loss Tax Act.

The MP has also urged the Uganda revenue authority to intensify audits and investigations to discover those tax payers evading taxes but not charge a tax of 0.5%.

The chairperson of the Finance Committee of parliament Henry Musasizi said that they needed to amend the act since some companies were using an existing lacuna in the law to evade taxes.

“We have a list of the companies which belong to that category [of reporting losses]…they are suspected to be producing two sets of accounts, one for the management and another for the tax body,” he said.

But Butambala county mp Muhammad Kivumbi who successfully proposed the deletion of the proposed tax challenged the proposition that Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) lacks the basic competence to detect or avert such alleged false accounting.

“Last year, we enhanced the capacity of Uganda Revenue Authority by 90 billion shillings so that they can have the capacity to expand the tax base. Therefore, the argument that the Chair fronts does not stand,” Kivumbi said.

Even though the minister of state for planning Bahati tried to make MPs support his proposal saying that government will lose 40 billion they planned to raise from the measure and it is something that is done in other countries the MPs did not heed to his explanations and the bill was passed without the amendment.

Some of the companies that were meant to pay the tax loss include Barclays bank, NSSF, the micro finance support center, Munyonyo common wealth resort limited, hotel Africana among others

Anti corruption activists ask government to regulate powers of the IGG

By Daudi Zirimala

The Anti Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU) activists say government should regulate rather than curtail the powers of the inspectorate of government as it’s contained in the amendment to public procurement and disposal of public Assets PPDA Act 2003.

According to the executive director of ACCU Cissy Kagaba, it has emerged that government is determined to curtail the powers of the inspectorate of government with regard to investigating procurement related corruption.

Kagaba adds that as anti corruption activists, they believe that intervention by Inspector General in government projects is important and healthy for ensuring transparency and accountability because blocking the IG from investigating procurement related corruption is potentially unconstitutional and could expose government to unnecessary litigation.

They say government should address the lacuna in the regulatory framework to guide the inspectorate and also intervene in procurement corruption cases. They added regulations to IG Act be passed rather than amending the PPDA Act in a potentially unconstitutional manner.

This development comes on the heels of several procurement related scandals including the Katosi rd scandal, national ID scandal and of recent the corruption allegation shrouding the procurement of the new parliament chambers. And if the proposal to the PPDA act is passed, the Inspectorate will no longer be able to probe corruption in procurement projects and the proposal from government is influenced by several projects which have been halted by the Inspectorate of Government pending investigation, this perhaps frustrated some people in government.

Government warns against people promoting pornography

By Moses kidandi

People who carry out sex education( sengas and kojjas) online will face arrest, the pornography control committee has warned.

Princess Hafisa Kabaganja Abooki the representative for cultural Leaders on the pornography control committee says these people are brain washing people’s minds with sex explicit material.

She says much as such information is important to people intending to get married or already in marriage, it is being transmitted on the wrong forums which are accessible to all people regardless of the age which is so harmful.

UDB scores highly in Fitch rating

By Edwin Muhumuza

Uganda Development Bank (UDB) ranks ‘B+’ according to the latest credit rating by Fitch, a top international credit rating agency.

A credit rating is an evaluation of the credit risk of a prospective debtor (an individual, a business, company or a government), predicting their ability to pay back the debt, and an implicit forecast of the likelihood of the debtor defaulting.

The state owned development Bank and its issuer default ratings are driven by its support rating floor of ‘4’ and ‘B+’, respectively, which reflects Fitch’s view of a high propensity of government to support the bank when need arises especially due to its policy of financing Uganda’s priority areas, full-state ownership, significant funding guarantees and ordinary capital contributions from the state.

The managing Director, UDB, Patricia Ojangole notes that they intend to use the credit rating to increase funders’ confidence in the bank and thereby increase the banks chances of raising capital.

Currently the authorized capital contribution to the bank stands at shs.500 billion but so far government has put in 274 billion shillings, Ojangole said.

The head of Risk and Compliance Moses Ebitu, said the credit rating is good in that it raises the horizon of borrowing but also lowers the cost of borrowing which translates to the cost of facilities they offer and so they look to borrow from multinationals and then extend it to clients.

‘This rating speaks to a lot of things, a combination of different factors including how the bank is run and managed. Regardless of how good UDB may be, they can only be ranked to the extent of the support that government offers.’added Ebitu.

The bank has operations covering the entire country but without retail branches because they finance their own operations without government support for operating costs according to the officials.Government had committed to fund the bank up to 2022 but they hope that government fast tracks funding before then.

‘When the bank’s capital base significantly increases then they will be able to increase their nation-wide reach with time, and Ugandans will be able to access the money they want’, according to Ojangole.

Fitch Ratings of B+ on Uganda. cites the country’s high levels of infrastructure spending and its sound macroeconomic policy framework and a stable outlook on Uganda.
The Bank continues to focus on agriculture; the entire value chain, manufacturing, tourism, human capital development that is health and education plus infrastructure development

National youth council applauds Government for banning betting

By Deo Wasswa
National youth council has commended government move to ban foreign sports betting companies in the country saying that it will give youth enough time to concentrate on their jobs and also to engage in other income generating activities.

According to Lilian Abel, the chairperson of National Youth Council, betting is affecting very many young people negatively in that even the little money they get they end up investing it in betting.

She noted that what the government and leaders should look at is engaging young people in productive activities that can produce money in their hands other than taking it away. ‘’ we don’t see how betting is changing the lives of young people and also supporting them in terms of raising finances’’ Lilian added.

She added that the government should have banned betting on Monday, but given that it has come out, it should not change its decision on the matter. “The government’s efforts should focus on creating opportunities for many youths that are likely to lose their jobs in this sector.” She said.

On Sunday 20th January 2019, the state minister for finance Mr. David Bahati announced that president Museveni had ordered the government not to register new sports betting company or renew licenses for the existing companies upon on expiry.

Information from national gambling board indicates that the government issued licenses to 40 general betting companies, 20 casinos, and 15 slot machines last year.

According to the research done by Economic policy research center in 2014 in Kampala found that the majority of Kampala residents 73.3% engage in gambling as source of livelihood as oppose to leisure.

Government to stop all unlicensed schools from operating

BY Moses Kidandi

Results of Over 3000 candidates’ who sat for last year’s primary living examinations have been withheld by the National Examination Board (UNEB) over malpractice.The withheld results comprise mostly schools in the western district of Bundibujo .The Minister of Education First Lady Janet Kataha Museveni warned against examination malpractice and warned the perpetrators of serious consequences.

According to the results,a total number of 67193 candidates sat for the 2018 examination at 13072 registered centers across the country out of which 11% of the pupils who sat for PLE have qualified to join secondary education compared to 9.1% in 2017.

Boys out competed girls in performance with 41064 attaining division compared to 35529.

The First Lady advised parents that they need to follow up and find you if their children registered with UNEB.
Prof Marry Okwakol the Chairperson UNEB ,says there was an increase in candidature of 3.9 % in 2018 compared to 0.8 in 2017 Okwakol says malpractice in schools has been attributed to continued assistance by teachers who keep writing answers to pupils on chits but says the overall performance has improved and more candidates have qualified to join post primary institutions in 2018 the assessment of learner’s with special needs was well done with a Total of 1,128 candidates registering and seating the special needs exams.

The Secretary to UNEB Dan Odongo says a Total of 671,923 registered for PLE from 13,072 centers in her speech,Education minister Janet Museveni has emphasized that no private schools will be allowed to operate without a valid license.
She says Others closed before for non compliance will also be allowed to operate on condition that they fulfill all school operating requirements.
State minister for Education Rosemary Seninde is warning parents against taking their children in unregistered or closed schools.

The minister of Education Janet Museveni has further directed District Education Officers (DEOs) to carry out regular supervisions especially in places with poor performance.