By Patrick Tumwebaze
The Uganda Debt Network (UDN) would like to commend the great work done by the Parliament of Uganda on questioning for the accountability of the US$200 million PTA loan.
Since the conception of the loan proposal, UDN has been closely following discussions, written a number articles and made presentations around it. We are grateful that this August House requested for the accountability on its utilization.
We are concerned that in 2016, Government through the Minister of Finance Planning and Economic Development tabled before the August House a request to borrow USD200m ( about Shs700 billion) from PTA Bank. Though the proposal was initially rejected by the 7th parliament, the objectives were later dubiously changed ostensibly for provision of medical supplies that were needed by the National Medical Stores.
It is unfortunate that the country last year went into medical supplies crisis yet the loan had already been acquired which prompted the Speaker, through the PAC committee, to investigate the matter.
UDN noted that government has continued to acquire loans on non-concessional basis which are expensive to the nation. Such loans are characterized with high interest rate payments, short servicing period, and sometimes from commercial lenders. We are also concerned that acquiring loans in such manner has increased the debt burden of Uganda, with the current debt stock in excess of Shs37 trillion as reported by of BOU State of Economy report December 2017.
We have clearly observed that for the past two Financial Years budgetary allocations for interest rate payments have taken 2nd and 3rd priorities respectively over and above sectorial allocations for the social economic sectors like education, health, among others.
We therefore call upon our Members of Parliament to discuss this crucial matter to bring all those who misguided the country to account, support the Auditor General in the scrutiny of the utilization and acquisition of this loan in addition to reviewing other loans that could have been obtained in that manner.
We look forward to your successful deliberation while handling the PTA loan issue for the benefit of our country.
The Writer is Executive Director, UDN