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{UAH} Uganda’s budget is just grand white-collar theft

Uganda's budget is just grand white-collar theft
  • Written by Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda

This week is supposed to stand out, so far, this year. This is because two significant annual state duties are taking place in a space of 36 hours.

The president, as commanded by the Constitution, yesterday (Tuesday) delivered an annual address to Parliament outlining achievements of the country in the last 12 months. This address also opened the second year of the 10th Parliament. Our five-year mandate has now reduced by one year.

And tomorrow (Thursday), the president will return to Serena Conference centre to read, again before Parliament, the country's 2017/18 annual budget. Serena hotel, at which these two functions are taking place, used to be a public facility. I am told it was constructed by Field Marshal Idi Amin Dada. Like all other public (government) facilities, it was given away to a private investor, His Highness the Aga Khan.

Many of the monumental state facilities have been shared by state actors and the leftovers sold to their local or international allies. Robbing the state, a vice they sanitize by the word corruption, is the legacy of this administration.

In the end, the state has deliberately been impoverished. It now relies on high interest rates mainly from China and selling treasury memoranda and bonds to commercial banks. To go to Serena, one passes by former Shimoni Demonstration School land, which Sudhir Ruparelia has finally accepted to have taken.

In May 2012, I told Parliament that Sudhir had taken the 15 acres of what used to be Shimoni Demonstration School and Shimoni Teacher Training College. At that time, I was serving as shadow lands minister.

In a story published by New Vision and posted on their website on May 4, 2012, Sudhir called me a liar. "In case the MP fails to adduce evidence, he should resign from his seat for telling lies. These MPs can afford to lie and still smile. I have no interests on that land," New Vision quoted Sudhir as saying.

Last week, as it has become a tradition, Sudhir explained how he is going to turn around that Shimoni land in a story published by Red Pepper. Most of Sudhir stories are these days written by specific media houses!

I have learnt not to get angry when these people that I call mafias are attacking me, calling me all sorts of names. They want to scare us away so they can steal with comfort. It is the reason I have not responded to an article Mr Museveni wrote, through his aide Don Wanyama, again claiming that I (Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda) lied about his trip to Qatar.

I think subsequent engagements have proved that I didn't lie. You all have seen the junior investment minister wearing hijabs before going to meet Qatar bosses.

Museveni's wife even had to buy a veil so she could look like a hajat; these fellows like money! Why not assign Hajat Janat Mukwaya or any other Muslim who will not be inconvenienced by our (Muslim) attire? I don't think I have to respond to a claim that Museveni didn't turn Qatar into a family day-out.

And of all people, Gen Charles Angina was also in the New Vision and Daily Monitor dismissing me as a liar. That I lied when I said Operation Wealth Creation, commanded by Museveni brother Gen Salim Saleh, is a disaster, to borrow Donald Trump's beloved word.

Anyway, the current owner of Serena hotel, Aga Khan, is one of the beneficiaries of this year's budget. He has been exempted from paying taxes at his Bujagali power generation business.

And the trouble is that Ugandans are paying for electricity which we are not consuming. In his latest report, the auditor general notes that since 2009, Uganda has been generating 685MW, yet it consumes only 550MW at peak hours. A total of 135MW is not utilized, yet we continue paying for it.

The situation will be made worse when Karuma, Isimba, Ayago, etc, begin generating power by 2019, as our revolutionary says. These will bring an additional 1,217MW on our grid. We have borrowed more than $2 billion to construct these power dams.

The growth in supply isn't commensurate with the growth in demand. Mind you, we still pay power companies Jacobsen and Electromax for no power consumed.

These two generate a total of 118MW but we are buying from them only 7MW. On these two days, you will hear our revolutionary leader celebrating investments in the energy sector. Roads, standard gauge railway and energy have become the catchword for him these days. The auditor general is complaining that supply is not determined by demand. Yet we would be better off building these things gradually.

The trouble is that we employed a kamyufu to design a power dam just because he had fixed electricity problems for our homes. That is why we are stuck. This year's budget is all about paying debts. We have borrowed nearly from every commercial bank to meet our recurrent expenditure.

We have put Shs 7 trillion in the budget to pay commercial banks! We also have a foreign debt to service, and we are paying interest even on money we have not yet received.

No amount of Kinyankore proverbs can change our fortunes. We simply have to fire Mzee Kamyufu and hire a more competent per- son to fix our problems.

The author is Kira Municipality MP and Opposition Chief Whip in parliament.


Gwokto La'Kitgum
"Even a small dog can piss on a tall building" Jim Hightower

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