Ugandans dissatisfied with COSASE

By Edwin Muhumuza

Debate on the COSASE report starts this Tuesday (26 February) on the floor of parliament amid high expectations that maybe officials implicated by the probe will be brought to book. What the public is demanding for already are the heads of the culprits.

When it was finally completed and read to the house a section of the public said it had promised too much but only to deliver too little.

While appearing on the Capital Gang Radio Show, Chairperson Abdu Katuntu expressed disgust that members of the public did not appreciate the role of other state institutions. This was in response to claims that his report was toothless and that culprits would walk away free as had been noted in other previous parliamentary reports especially the oil handshake report.

…‘a parliamentary committee report goes to the house where it may be adopted, dismissed or amended. When you have government institutions, they work in accordance with the law. Why we talk about the rule of law is to have different institutions perform different roles. Do not expect a parliament of a republic or a parliament of any country to start having the powers to prosecute or arrest. What will the Judiciary do, Katuntu argued!’

In 2017, Ugandans were angry that 36 government officials shared Shs.6 billion oil bonus code-named the “golden presidential handshake” by officials from the Justice ministry, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), Ministry of Finance among others. It was this same committee that probed the saga and in public view nothing has been done about the officials. This was one of the issues that Katuntu had to explain in recent weeks amid intense criticism from sections within his FDC party including his successor MP Mubarak Munyagwa for what they said was incompetence during his two and a half tenure as COSASE Chairman.

Now another major report is due for debate by public representatives and the question being asked is what will the discussion help if nothing may be done to those the report seems to indict?

Katuntu says, ‘our focus was in the actions more than individuals because at the end of the day there are state agencies that should be able to take up the individuals. What we did was to say, look here, actually, we used two words deliberately, the officers and officials who participated in this process should take full and personal responsibility. That covers their actions but we imagine that other state agencies now go and look at exactly who handled this process’.

For over two months, Bank Of Uganda (BOU), officials led by the governor Tumusiime Mutebile appeared before the committee chaired by the Bugweri County MP to answer to queries raised by the auditor general’s confidential special audit report which revealed weaknesses in the management of Central Bank and questioned the Governor and his team for the hitches in the closure of at least seven commercial banks.

The sale of Crane Bank, however seemed to have opened a can of worms after the proprietor businessman Sudhir Ruparelia accused Bank of Uganda of being unfair. Crane Bank was a commercial bank licensed and supervised by the Bank of Uganda, the national banking regulator with total assets‎ amounting to approximately ‎UGX 1.81 trillion employing over 600 staff.

This was a much bigger financial entity compared to the other defunct banks and certainly had to attract immense public attention including the media. In his new report to Parliament, the Auditor General, Mr John Muwanga, queried BoU officials on the flaws in the closure of Teefe Bank (1993), International Credit Bank Ltd (1998), Greenland Bank (1999), The Co-operative Bank (1999), National Bank of Commerce (2012), Global Trust Bank (2014) and the sale of Crane Bank Ltd (CBL) to dfcu (2016)

Most Ugandans are aware that the closure of Crane Bank by Bank of Uganda was illegal, what remains to be seen is what happens to the culprits that were engaged in this illegality and whether other agencies such as the Inspectorate of Government, the ministry of Finance, Criminal Investigations Department of Police will bite.

Parliamentary committee sets up a team that will read all documents submitted by Bank of Uganda

By Edwin Muhumuza

The parliamentary committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises(COSASE) yesterday decided to set up a team that will read all documents that are mainly confidentially submitted from Bank of Uganda for purposes of scrutiny. Chairperson, Abdu Katuntu said there will be no photocopying or taking photos of the documents to avoid leaking them to the public.

‘I set up a two-man committee involving one person from the NRM and one from the opposition, Hon Twesiime and Hon Medard Ssegona. They are going to be handling the confidential issues supervised by the vice. However, this information is not restricted to them because even members may access it for purposes of reading. No reproduction, No photocopies or even phones…’Katuntu said.

Meantime, the committee also accused Bank of Uganda of wrongfully closing Teefe Bank in 1993. Hon. Katuntu said that the then Finance Minister Jehoash Mayanja Nkangi did not have the power to order its closure on grounds that he based on the Bank Act of 1963 instead of the Financial Institutions Statute of 1993.

And as legislators began to point out more faults and seemingly about to condemn the Central Bank officials, there were appeals for patience at this stage of the probe.

‘now that we have ascertained their responses about the law, we are not going to judge anything at this point, let’s go through the process until the end, before we can make conclusions because we shall have heard all the information we need’ Katuntu remarked.

Earlier Bank Of Uganda Governor Tumusiime Mutebile was faulted over wrong and contradictions in his response about the dates of the closure of Teffe Bank. What was reflected in the response was not accurate according to the committee chair, Abdu Katuntu who noted that it was closed on 4th November 1993, and not in February 1993 as reported.

This amid arguments about the different legal regimes they acted to close it;1969 Bank Act or the Financial Institutions Statute 1993.

Members expressed disappointment amid calls for the Bank officials to go on oath, thus invoking powers of a High court to penalize witnesses over the contradictions.

While members mulled at the circumstances surrounding the failure of the Teefe Bank, Bank of Uganda Governor Emmanuel Mutebile revealed that he would not intend to reopen any of the defunct banks. This while responding to queries from Aruu county MP, Odonga Otto. ‘In principal, I would never dream of reopening a bank I have closed before.’

The committee will meet BOU officials every day except Saturday and Sunday until they are done.

Mutebile denies receiving list of companies in need of financial bailout

Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile, the Governor of the Bank of Uganda (BoU), says he has not received any list of distressed companies seeking financial bailout.

Addressing the media in Kampala, Mutebile says claims that the central bank will dish money to so-called distressed companies and individuals is untrue because he has not seen nor got any distress list.

There is public furore after it emerged that 65 companies and individuals, claiming to be in financial distress, want the taxpayers to pay them 1.3 trillion Shillings in total. They claim that they are sinking under the weight of heavy loans.

There have also been speculation that the bailout money is expected to come from the BoU and National Social Security Fund.

But Mutebile says he has got not only has no bailout list but also the country has no money to bailout anyone.

Speaking in an earlier interview with Uganda Radio Network, Herman Kasekende, the Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank Uganda, also denied having received any bailout list. Neither could he also confirm whether some of their clients are choking on loans.

-URN