By Kagenyi Lukka
11th April 2018.
While representing his boss at the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE) 20 year anniversary dinner, Deputy Bank of Uganda Governor Dr. Louis Kasekende spent more than half of the time allotted to him making shameless and scanty remarks.
During the Friday 6th April event at Serena Hotel, Kampala, Dr Kasekende, as if haunted by the Crane Bank ghosts, shamelessly peddled lies about its closure and the entire economy.
For instance The Uganda Securities Exchange hasn’t had an IPO in the last about five years. It has only stagnated at 8 companies that are locally listed with those that had earlier showed interest chickening. These include the former CRANE BANK, Kakira Sugar etc.
Kasekende further painted a rosy, yet misleading, picture of Uganda’s struggling economy.
“Furthermore, growth was wide spread across the economy with Agriculture, Industry and services recording buoyant growth in the second half of 2017,” Kasekende’s speech read in part.
The revival of economic growth has been accompanied by a very strong inflation performance, he said.
It is my considered opinion that Kasekende’s innuendos portrayed sheer elite mischievousness as reality tells the opposite.
The low rate of economic growth has been bemoaned by the National Planning Authority who through its chairman, Kisamba Mugerwa wrote a letter to the Speaker of Parliament and Matia Kasaija on March 27
Mugerwa, notes that Uganda will not attain the coveted Middle income status by 2020.
While Kasekende praises growth, figures from NPA and UBOS show that the economy grew by 4.0 per cent in 2015/16 and 4.8 per cent in 2016/17 and 5.5 per cent in the financial year ending June 2018.All this is below NDP targets of 5.8 per cent, 5.9 per cent and 6.6 per cent respectively.
Sadly, the sound economy that Kasekende fronts is characterized by growing poverty levels as per the numerous UBOS reports.
A UBOS report indicates that absolute poverty has increased to 21.4 per cent in the year 2016/2017 from 19 per cent in the year 2012-2013 .About 8 million Ugandans of 37.7 million live below the poverty line.
Relatedly, URA collections are below the target in a buoyant economy emphasized by Kasekende. Reports indicate that the collections are at about 60 per cent.
In 2016/17 URA collected Shs12.7 trillion against a target of Shs13.1 trillion. The daily Monitor reports that URA had failed to hit its target for the past four years since 2013/14 FY (Daily Monitor Wed 26 /July/2017).
“Whereas the FY 2016 outturn was lower than projected collections by Shs457.51billion, this performance was realized amidst sluggish economic growth…” A statement by Doris Akol read in part.
Any follower of current events would recall that recently, government has opted to borrow to pay salaries while fuel prices have increased immensely in a growing economy.
Yesterday, Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde was meeting cement manufacturers to settle prices and bring them down. In Kasekende’s growing economy, the cost of cement increased to Shs50, 000 with in less than a month.
Then it came to Crane Bank which was unnecessarily looped in at dinner. Kasekende who is believed to have worked with Justine Bagyenda to give away Crane Bank at a negligible credit of Shs200 billion Uganda claimed that the bank collapsed due to internal mismanagement issues.
He however, fell short of telling us where was the supervisor was the bank for its problems to escalate thus far.
Why then were crane bank shareholders made to pay over Shs350 billion in an attempt to write off non-performing loans?
Kasekende should have also told the gathering on what the market value of Crane Bank assets was, why they (BOU) didn’t give other potential buyers a chance to buy Crane Bank but opted for DFCU bank. Further still, Kasekende and his accomplices find themselves with fewer answers to questions such as why they didn’t give shareholders a chance to recapitalize Crane Bank and why their listed auditors had consistently given Crane Bank a clean bill of health with its financial statements approved by BOU.
Finally, Kasekende and group should swallow a humble pie and accept that they made mistakes. The risk that his group stands is humongous and I think that’s why the principle Judge Yorokamu Bamwine has always candidly advised them to opt for out of court settlement in the multiple suits against them by Dr Sudhir Ruparelia.
Its Kasekende’s lies and arrogance that will cost the tax payer when justice is finally delivered.
Kagenyi Lukka is a current affairs commentator