FDC's Semujju Nganda

The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has warned investors signing dubious agreements to fleece the country. The Party singled out Ms. Enrica Pinetti, an Italian who has been given hefty contracts in the Country.

In 2019, the Parliament of Uganda approved a US$ 379 million (Shs 1.4 trillion) guarantee for the construction of an International Specialized Hospital in Lubowa, Wakiso district. On completion in 2022, the 264-bed specialized hospital is expected to treat cancer, heart diseases, and offer highly specialized surgeries, etc to scale back referrals abroad.

Under Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Ltd (UVCC), she signed US$ 80 million coffee agreement with Uganda. The agreement gives her monopoly over Uganda’s coffee for a period of 10 years.

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Mr. Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, the spokesperson of FDC said: “Lubowa the site of the hospital is public land measuring 32 acres. It was given to Pinetti for free. The government guaranteed $350 million (Shs 1.2 trillion) for Pinetti to borrow to finance the construction of the hospital. The government also undertook a decision to make annual payments to Pinetti as part of the payment for the hospital.”

Last year, Uganda paid Shs 340 billion to Pinetti and the government has included Shs 319 billion in next year’s budget for her to finance the construction of the health facility. The country is paying her more than half of the total project value.

“The money is budgeted for under Treasury Operations Vote 130, under the Ministry of Finance which is Uganda’s debt management fund. The country is running a Shs 16 trillion debt fund to pay for interest which is about Shs 7 trillion. The remainder is for paying principles so we can borrow more mainly from local commercial banks,” he said adding that, “Pinetti is part of the reason, Finance is asking for Shs 16 trillion to manage the debt.  This is robbery by Mr Museveni’s government.”

Currently, Uganda’s public debt stands at Shs 69.5trillion (USD 19.54 Billion). Of this, domestic and external debt is Shs 25.4Trillion (USD 7.2 Billion) and Shs 44trillion (USD 12.4 Billion). The public debt is expected to increase at the end of the next financial year 2022/2023.

Ssemujju expressed concern over the government’s decision of not budgeting for Shs 24.1 billion to rehabilitate and construct facilities at regional referral hospitals such as Masaka, Mbarara, Jinja, and Iganga, Soroti, Mbale and Gulu.

“There is no money (Shs 8 billion) in the budget being considered by Parliament to buy medical equipment for regional referral hospitals such as CT scans, digital X-rays, HD vehicles, and new oxygen plants but there is money for Pinetti,” he said.

Pinetti was given a deal to monopolize the country’s coffee and contracts to construct six roads.  The coffee deal has since been deemed bad for the country. The coffee agreement offers several unprecedented tax concessions, social security, and provision of priority supply of 60,000 tonnes of Uganda’s coffee beans to UVCC. The ten-year concessions shall be effected when the company goes commercial.

Under the agreement, the government of Uganda agreed to support the implementation of the project through the provision of total tax exemptions and the freedom not to pay social security for the staff employed.

UVCC commits to pay for the priority supply of superior quality coffee beans at a premium price to be determined by UVCC but in any case, not below the price approved by UCDA, the coffee regulatory authority.

“Investors coming into Uganda please know that these contracts will not be honoured once the country gets rid of Museveni which is soon. At the moment the population is at gunpoint and contracts signed when the population is at gunpoint won’t be honoured. This also serves as warning to local investors who are partaking in the looting of our country,” he said.