Uganda Development Bank (UDB) has announced a profit of Shs 6 billion realized in the last financial year.
According to news on local radio stations, UDB disbursed loans worth about Shs 90 billion last year and received Shs 30 billion in repayment. This, according to its chief executive officer Patricia Ojangole, is good performance, considering its recent annual loan repayment of about Shs 3.5 billion.
While the achievement is worth celebrating, the figures point to a bigger structural problem with our economy. Big because how can the only nation’s development bank celebrate disbursement of just Shs 90 billion?
The government, through finance minister Matia Kasaija, promised last year to capitalize UDB with another Shs 50 billion.
Scandalous as it was, I am told this little money is yet to be availed to the bank to bring the total capitalization to Shs 150 billion. The target, I hear, is to hit Shs 500 billion. I have used UDB to help readers of this column understand why our economy is on its knees.
A report of the parliamentary committee on National Economy, chaired by Syda Bbumba, reveals the obvious. “Findings from interviews indicate that majority of people suffered lack of credit, especially those making a living from agriculture.
“There is need for Uganda to explore alternative banking institutions that can meet the financial needs of majority of people, especially those that are engaged in production of goods and service,” reads part of the report discussed in parliament last week.
And the sectors such as agriculture, tourism, oil and gas which the report highlights are exactly what UDB wants to finance, but it lacks capital.
And I know Kasaija will tell you that we don’t have enough money. While it is true, trouble is that the little collected from the public (taxes) is grossly abused by our dear leaders, especially the head of state.
Imagine for the last six years, Mr Museveni who is the de facto minister of Finance, has been allocating himself Shs 97 billion for donations. This money is part of the State House budget which averages to about Shs 250 billion annually.
The conduct and attitude of our revolutionary leader is the source and mother of all our problems as a country. Giving UDB Shs 50 billion was one of the highlights of the 2017/18 budget. And giving Mr Museveni Shs 97 billion for donation was not even mentioned on budget day.
While Museveni gets Shs 97 billion for donations, UDB gets Shs 50 billion which is either never paid or delayed. Museveni has already finished the money, and has presented a request for supplementary budget to parliament.
In the last six years, Museveni has spent Shs 582 billion on donations alone. The money to capitalize UDB has not reached Shs 150 billion.
The bank is supposed to offer long-term loans at a lower interest rate to grow the economy. And it is not that Mr Museveni doesn’t know these things. He does, but has been overcome by the appetite for power. He sleeps, dreams and wakes up thinking about staying in State House till death.
Next year, he wants every user of mobile money and social media taxed. He wants to raise about Shs 300 billion from both these sources. And what will he use the money on?
The Electoral Commission has submitted a budget of Shs 263 billion for a referendum to ask Ugandans to increase the term of the president from five to seven years.
And as all these things are happening, the parliamentary committee on National Economy reports that agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors, which employ majority of Ugandans, are declining.
The combined growth of these three sectors in 2016/17 was 1.3 per cent, yet our population is growing at more than three per cent every year. It is the reason majority of young people are restless because of lack of employment. And the solution from the head of state is to buy some of them motorcycles (boda bodas).
And things can only get worse. The amount of money our dear leader needs to rent support is astronomical, and this economy can no longer produce it because of his many years of mismanagement.
I have already shared with you the amount of money he spent procuring the removal of age limits. And he is still paying because each of the 317 MPs has received only Shs 140 million, yet the deal was Shs 200 million plus two years’ extension in parliament.
You remember the amount he spent on fighting Amama Mbabazi. MPs then received Shs 150 million each as a bribe not to support Mbabazi.
That is the money he periodically needs to rent support in parliament. Folks, let us brace ourselves for the worst unless we join the struggle to get rid of this man.
The author is Kira municipality MP and opposition chief whip in parliament.