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Museveni fired me for opposing sale of UCB - Prof Suruma

Former UCB managing director Prof Ezra Suruma

Former UCB managing director Prof Ezra Suruma

Former deputy governor Bank of Uganda Prof Ezra Suruma says he feels vindicated now that cabinet is considering the revival of Uganda Commercial Bank (UCB).

Suruma, the current Makerere University chancellor was one of the few government officials that had tried to resist the World Bank/International Monetary Fund (IMF) call for the privatization of UCB. He was the deputy governor Bank of Uganda at that time, but decided to move to UCB as its chairman and managing director as part of the efforts to save it from being privatized.

In a recent interview, Suruma who later became Finance minister says the government was pressurized by IMF/World Bank to privatize UCB and other parastatals as a condition for aid.

“…In other cases even when we didn’t agree, we were pressured and this is what happened particularly with Uganda Commercial Bank which I personally led and I opposed its privatisation and I was fired because of my opposing its privatisation after a very long struggle.” Suruma said.

The IMF/World Bank according to Suruma, then advised that UCB should be privatized because it was unprofitable and not liquid. But Suruma says his experience from United States was that the banking sector was a special industry whose operation was jealously guarded by both federal and state laws. He says UCB, which at the time of its privatization was holding almost half of the banking deposits of Uganda, should have equally been guarded jealously.

UCB, according to Suruma was holding over Shs 400bn in deposits at the time when it was sold. He says he had ensured the turnaround of UCB but the World Bank and IMF insisted that it should be privatized.

“I did a lot of restructuring, I did a lot of work, I took a lot of risks and turned it around. And I said now there is no reason to privatise it because it was a very important bank. It almost had half the deposits of people of Uganda…I did not want it privatised, and I thought it should remain in our hands. But the World Bank said now it will fetch a better price which means they were not honest in the first place, they just wanted it and they took it literally by force.” Suruma said.

Suruma says World Bank/IMF diagnostics studies only targeted indigenous banks like Uganda Commercial Bank, Uganda Development Bank and Cooperative Bank. Parliament in 2001 after heated debate, resolved that UCB should not be privatized. President Museveni however wrote to Bank of Uganda governor, Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile insisting that it should be sold even when it had improved in liquidity.

“I have received resolutions passed by parliament today regarding the privatisation of Uganda Commercial Bank. The resolution does not change my long-held view that UCB should be sold as soon as possible, as per our Privatisation Plan for the whole parastatal sector,” reads part of the September 30 letter to Bank of Uganda.

Bank of Uganda proceeded with opening of the bids leading to the sale of majority of UCB’s shares to the South African Bank Stanbic bank at $19.6 million (about Shs 71bn). Cabinet has been discussing the possibility of reviving a bank similar to UCB to influence interest rates and promote development banking.

There is feeling that Stanbic bank now the largest bank determines interest rates on the market. Suruma welcomes the idea saying the government shouldn’t have been cautious in the first place.

“There are some areas where privatisation was justified in my opinion, there areas where probably it could have been limited. Because we, as Ugandan people want to have a stake and there are many areas where because of the cost of capital, we cannot enter the industry and government can go in our behave. And maybe after some point it can sell shares to Ugandans then you can a stake. You can even share stake and profits of the company. What is happening is we are realising that stake of Ugandans could be greater, that we should have cheaper capital to enable us enter enterprises and I think that struggle must continue.” Suruma said.

But the World Bank continues to cite the privatization of UCB as one of the success stories in Africa. In 2007, a study “Bank Privatization in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Case of Uganda Commercial Bank” concluded that the privatization of UCB was successful because the bank become solvent and more efficient since the privatization.

It said that the sale of UCB improved the access to banking for some parts of the population.

Comments

+7 #1 Lakwena 2019-05-13 16:24
In other words, this is a depressing news. Why does Prof. Suruma has to tell Ugandans now?

He should have told us immediately he was fired.
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+8 #2 sula 2019-05-13 16:38
1- Museveni after the humiliating rejection in the 1980 election, I believe ,weird as he is, decided he would destroy Uganda.

That is what he has done. Amin could have slaughtered anybody suggesting to sell such a strategic National asset to foreigners !.

2- UCB was a strategic National Asset , one to sell it was actually selling Uganda, and that is what Museveni did.

Sadly he did not stop at UCB but sold almost ALL the strategic Assets. Now the economy is hollow ,reviving Uganda Airlines by Museveni is not only like one eating his vomit , but it wont help when done by Museveni.

3- The solution is simply : let Museveni and all the bushmen leave us to run our country. They have looted enough.
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+4 #3 sula 2019-05-13 16:45
Regardless of what happened , the Nation still salute patriotic people like Mr Suruma. no doubt Museveni had to sack you , because he believes Uganda belongs to him.

Over and above he believes with his Dar es salaam degree he is the most brilliant in Uganda.

One day Museveni and all those who have assisted him in destroying our country ,making the future of our grandchildren bleak will answer for their actions.
twajirwa.
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+4 #4 sula 2019-05-13 16:53
Of course the World Bank and those who stole our Bank had to praise themselves - the truth they took a going concern for free ! so why couldn't they be happy !

It is only Uganda where you find a 'president' selling 'his ' country. (if he ever believe in Uganda')

The UCB &others is a very painful story !
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+2 #5 Chris 2019-05-14 08:46
So saaadddddd!! when I think of the previous Uganda I once loved M7 today No way. time to Account for. UCB, Coffe Marketing Board, UBC land, Central Purchasing land, Baganda Bus Park Land, Nakivubo land, UTC land, Makerere University land, Shimon Land, government Farm lands and ranches etc all prime lands. we know them we are not fools TIME will tell I bet all will get back to Uganda for Uganda's government Economy.

Commissions were set to rob Uganda and we shall also set commissions to recover all government assets and land! I pity young Ham. - Thank you Prof. Suruma.
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+1 #6 Chris 2019-05-14 08:57
Country men I guess you all know why Margret Thatcher became so unpopular to Africa and other developing countries, it was because she was the initiator of privatization concept to kill all developing countries economically so that they could not get self reliance.

Thus the intention was to maintain economic superiority through greedy selfish African leaders. Bravo to Kenya they maintained and rejected some silly concepts and KCB and Kenya Airways are some of government entities surviving.

For Uganda Airlines, it will never make it against Kenya and other carriers simply you must tap local market before international market But with the hatred shown to Ugandans only NRM will use it.
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+2 #7 Zaitun 2019-05-14 09:37
What annoys most is to find a man of Museveni's age at the time, being fooled by a small Pakistani in his thirties, whose credentials I believe, were so bleak- giving a so-called President of an indepedent country orders to privatise everything the ountry owned!

It is time this man should go out of our sight as a President, for he has shamed us, destroyed our country enough.

Never forget that behind him were International organisations whose only objective was to reduse Ugandans to Stone Age period- and thanks to Museveni, they succeeded!

All the killings (human sacrifices) taking place in the country are just to show us that this man is a member of devilish underground organisations intent to destroy well organised human structures.

How it took this man just seconds to append his signature to destroy what former leaders built over decades.

What a heartless leader!!!
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+1 #8 Lakwena 2019-05-14 11:52
[quote name="Zaitun"

-called President of an indepedent country orders to privatise everything the ountry owned!

It is time this man should go out of our sight as a President, for he has shamed us, destroyed our country enough.

Never forget that behind him were International organisations whose only objective was to reduse Ugandans to Stone Age period- and thanks to Museveni, they succeeded! ...

How it took this man just seconds to append his signature to destroy what former leaders built over decades.

What a heartless leader!!!

In other words Zaitun, Mr. M7 is a very dirty president. Together with his brothers and others, at large, were behind the demise of UCB, so that they bring in KCB, to humiliate and disgrace Uganda/Ugandans.

While they are it, destroying the countries historic assets, at the same time, they tell Ugandans to be patriotic. What a BS!
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+2 #9 Lakwena 2019-05-14 12:03
Quoting sula:
Of course the World Bank and those who stole our Bank had to praise themselves - the truth they took a going concern for free ! so why couldn't they be happy !

It is only Uganda where you find a 'president' selling 'his ' country. (if he ever believe in Uganda')

The UCB &others is a very painful story !


In other words Sula, just like the former colonial Brits were out here to milk Ugandans, Mr. M7 is not a Ugandan, and he has never denied that fact.

E.g., don't you see how he and wife Janet dress up like the former governors and governess, complete with bush hate?

They even move with their portable-folding, field chairs and table, just like the colonial masters used to do, whenever they went upcountry.

They are telling you that: they are now your new "black colonial masters".
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