The Executive Director for Uganda Development Bank (UDB) Patricia Ojangole has said that the list that the state-owned New Vision published on Thursday was fake, misleading, and anomalous and should be ignored by all.
Under the cover headline “Gov’t Pays Shs443bn in Covid Bailout”, the newspaper used pages 5 and 6 to publish what it erroneously claimed was the list of the companies that had been advanced the money under the Covid-19 bailout which Parliament passed to support strategically very important businesses that were fatally crippled by the Coronavirus-related constraints.
In the said story, a total of 56 companies were listed and falsely portrayed to have shared Shs443,764,632,550 as government support channeled through Ojangole’s UDB. However, Patricia Ojangole said the New Vision story was nothing but total misrepresentation.
“There was talk about that bailout thing but the truth is as UDB, we have never got that money to have disbursed it to any company. What is contained in that list are businesses which went through normal procedures, applied and got loans from UDB and it had nothing to do with Covid-19 bailout. That misreporting has caused us a lot of complications with our clients who took out money approved through the normal channels without being beneficiaries of the so-called Covid-19 bailout,” Patricia told Mulengera News in an interview on Friday adding that the Bank will on Monday come out with a comprehensive statement to rebut the false impression.
Ojangole says that some of the companies on the list applied for and had their loans normally approved from UDB long before even the Coronavirus and the resultant lockdown had come into existence. “What they published is nothing but a list of our normal borrowers who have nothing to do with the Covid-19 bailout money,” she clarified imploring the state-owned media, which is supposed to set standards for the rest of the industry, to desist from sensational reporting.
The proposed bailout package for stressed businesses is something the President has always talked about in his televised addresses but UDB has never been availed with such money to effect the President’s offer to the businesses as was implied by the New Vision story.
Ojangole clarified that at the instigation of government, they have been very deliberate in their loans’ disbursement by prioritizing essential businesses like those involved in food production, production for exports and manufacturing of sanitizers which at some point were very essential to the country’s overall Covid-19 response. That this isn’t the same as disbursing out Covid-19 bailout funds that the News Vision referred to in their Thursday reporting.
A number of companies and businesses are so aggrieved with the misreporting by the New Vision and they have already instructed their lawyers to consider filing a multiplicity of suits against UDB and the newspaper according to Mulengera News. That contrary to best practice rules, the impugned publication by New Vision wasn’t only false but also breached the confidentiality requirements between the bank and its customers (borrowers).
Some of the businesses that were published and erroneously portrayed as having benefited from the GoU Covid-19 bailout fund (which Ojangole says has never been availed to UDB) are already being targeted for unjustified political demonization with social media users falsely portraying them as regime stooges who are being favored ahead of other equally struggling businesses.
Such demonization is pushing many of the affected businesses and companies to defend themselves against such misrepresentation by referring the matter to court. The impugned Thursday story is an outrageous misrepresentation which both UDB and New Vision must urgently correct to deescalate the detriment the same has caused the companies or businesses that have improperly been named and portrayed as beneficiaries of a nonexistent GoU covid19 bailout package.