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    NSSF’s BOD Chair Kaberenge Vows To Resign If Ssali Stays

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    By Otim Nape

    NSSF Board chairman Kaberenge Patrick Byamukama is understood to have indicated to Minister Matia Kasaijja he will resign in protest should the Minister ignore Board recommendations and renew Geraldine Ssali’s contract as DMD.

    Credible sources have revealed that Kasaija has been advised by some technocrats at the Ministry of Finance to go slow on the Geraldine issue and to avoid being used by Kaberenge and Byarugaba Richard Patrick to fight personal wars. The technocrats have advised Kasaijja to be careful because Richard and Kaberenge are known for fighting petty wars and Kasaija shouldn’t be used in proxy wars. As a result, Kasaijja has become careful and considers it that Geraldine’s performance wasn’t bad after all as the Kaberenges are saying. He has reflected on how some level-headed board members like Bigirimana and Namata Mwanje were sidelined from the last month meeting that renewed Richard and CS Wabwire’s contract while rejecting Ssali’s at the same time.

    Kasaijja has also got wind of the leaked information from IGG’s office regarding the clear conflict of interest Byarugaba and Kaberenge manifested in blocking Ssali’s contract. Kasaijja has been advised that unless its revoked, any court of law will quash his and board’s decision regarding Ssali because Kaberenge and Richard dominated the board meeting and the decision yet the very same people are in court against her meaning they can’t exercise fair and unbiased judgment when handling her performance and determining her suitability for the new contract.  Kasaija clearly doesn’t want to be shrouded in such complex litigation and moral dilemma.

    NSSF Board chairman Patrick Kaberenge’s letter communicating renewal and non-renewal of the top managers’ contracts.

    This is why he is moving very slowly and his decision so far is that if it’s staying, then all top executive committee must have their contracts renewed and vice versa.  The IGG documents which may enrich future court applications clearly show glaring flaws in the way Ssali’s performance was assessed and the grading C slapped in her face. Kasaija has also been warned that Richard and Kaberenge can sometimes involve themselves in petty wars which he shouldn’t be used to fight unknowingly. It has reliably been revealed by sources in Ministry of finance that Kasaijja has been approached by desperate power brokers trying to blackmail him by arguing that the Fund will lose the ‘unique’ expertise of Richard and Kaberenge, who are likely to quit, protesting Ssali’s staying in case the Minister opts to have her back in the DMD post. Ssali’s high performance, according to the IGG findings, manifests in the surplus that was realized in the Fund’s financial receipts in 2014 when she was Ag MD whereby after paying members an interest of 13%, the NSSF had excess liquidity of 272bn. Moreover this was at a time most of the top NSSF managers were holding positions in acting capacity without being confirmed. She was the Acting MD; Kasirye Joseph was Ag head of HRM and was later replaced by Eseza Byakika who also was in acting capacity.

    NSSF Board chairman Patrick Kaberenge’s letter communicating renewal and non-renewal of the top managers’ contracts.

    Lydia Kasato was acting head investments department, Grace Semakula was Ag head marketing and communications having replaced Lumonya Olive. Geraldine was at the same time doing tough board assignments at the Housing Finance Bank where she represents NSSF on the board. In cautioning Kasaija, the ministry of finance technocrats are stressing the point of the MD being too petty sometimes. They say
    sometime in 2015 when he had just got back his job as NSSF MD, Byarugaba accepted being announced the employee of the year and was given the gift of the brand new fridge at a function at Imperial Royale. It’s said Christine Kasule Mulindwa, who was acting HR head after the quitting of Eseza Byakika, silenced Arthur Okello of the procurement department who fellow workmates had considered the best employee of the year. It’s said Ms Mulindwa was desperate to win Byarugaba’s favor so that he could support her to become the confirmed HR head. This never happened and the post was given to current HR head Milton Owor, leaving Christine Mulindwa feeling betrayed by the MD. To the ministry of finance technocrats determined to advise Kasaijja not to make mistakes on the NSSF top jobs saga again, the fact that Richard accepted the accolade of best employee of the years ‘shows pettiness of a big man who can’t let go of such small things’.

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    Confidence In Our National Airline Is Increasing – MPs Impressed With Uganda Airlines Performance, Ready To Approve Shs25bn For Carrier’s Spare Engine…

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    MPs on Parliament’s Committee on Physical Infrastructure inspecting Uganda Airlines equipment

    MPs on Parliament’s Committee on Physical Infrastructure are impressed with the performance of Uganda Airlines and have promised to lobby for more Government funding to the national carrier.

    This comes after the lawmakers went on a guided tour of Uganda Airlines operations on Thursday.

    The MPs started by visiting the airline’s Kampala based office before heading to the main office in Entebbe where they interacted with staff from the carrier’s various departments.

    They also toured the self-handling yard that contains equipment for the self-handling project that is expected to start two months from now.

    The aim of the visit was for MPs to know more about the operations, performance and plans of Uganda Airlines. They also wanted to know the challenges the national carrier is facing and how better they can be addressed.

    Speaking to journalists after interfacing with Uganda Airlines Management, David Karubanga, the Chairperson of Parliament’s Committee on Physical Infrastructure, said they had a candid discussion on the operations of the national carrier for the last three years. Uganda Airlines started commercial operations in August 2019.

    “As a Committee, we have observed that the airline is growing; Ugandans and other passengers have embraced the airline. Confidence in our national airline is increasing and as a Committee, we would like to see the airline move to a point where it can fully support itself in terms of revenue,” Karubanga said.

    He added that although COVID-19 has affected the airline’s revenues, the performance recorded so far is impressive.

    “As a Committee, we are going to call the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Works and Transport to come and talk to them on the commitment in terms of funding the airline because the aviation industry is global and it has regulatory compliance issues [an airline must fulfill],” he said.

    Karubanga added that the Committee is happy with the airline’s strategic plan that will see the national carrier roll out more aircraft; mid-range aircraft for cargo and domestic flights.

    He added that the Committee supports the self-handling project as it will greatly cut the operational costs of the airline.

    “We have inspected the equipment purchased by Uganda Airlines for self-handling project This means that Uganda Airlines will save on the money it is currently spending on another service provider (DAS). It will also earn more revenue (by offering ground handling services to third party companies). They are just waiting for certification from Uganda Civil Aviation Authority.

    We are going to follow up that issue as a Committee. They should get that license as soon as possible because it will enhance their revenue as an agency of Government,” Karubanga said.

    The Committee is also happy that Uganda Airlines management has made strategic partnerships with other airlines and countries.

    “We are happy that they have resolved the challenges in leadership. We are hopeful that this airline is going to develop since the number of passengers using Uganda Airlines has increased. It started with 65,000 and in the third year, it has over 270,000 passengers.

    That’s a very big growth in terms of passengers and trust in the national carrier,” Karubanga said.

    He also revealed that Committee members got a technical explanation on why a spare engine is important. The MPs are now convinced that Uganda Airlines needs the spare engine urgently.

    “The rationale of having a spare engine is agreeable by the Committee. We support it fully because the cost of hiring one is quite high,” he said.

    Ephraim Bagenda, the Director of  Engineering and Maintenance at Uganda Airlines, told MPs that a standby spare engine is necessary because engines are changed after a period of time.

    “When you operate up to 8,000 flight hours, then the engine has to be removed and sent for performance restoration; you can call it overhaul. When you remove one engine, you need to install another to continue with the operations or else get grounded. If we don’t have a spare, we have to lease an engine from abroad while we send ours to the workshop. The one which goes to the workshop will take a minimum of 90 days to be overhauled. If you hire one, you must spend daily until the overhauled one returns.

    Leasing an engine for 90 days will cost a minimum of US$650,000 (Shs2.52bn). If you have a spare, once you remove the engine which needs to be overhauled, you put your spare; you avoid leasing. A new spare engine costs US$6.5m (Shs25.2bn). That is with a discount of 15%,” Bagenda explained.

    He added that Uganda Airlines has a total inventory of spares worth US$12m (Shs46.5bn).

    The Committee also realized that the airline has a challenge of skilled manpower especially pilots.

    “We are calling on Ugandans to undertake on those courses. If they can gain enough flight experience, the jobs are there,” Karubanga said.

    Jenifer Bamuturaki, the Uganda Airlines Chief Executive Officer (CEO), said that there are mandatory numbers of pilots the airline must have for both the Airbus and for the CRJ.

    It’s important to note that Uganda Airlines currently operates a fleet of four (4) CRJ900 and two (2) Airbus A330-800neo.

    Bamuturaki says they don’t have adequate numbers for pilots. This is after the national carrier upgraded First Officers to Captains.

    “So the manpower we need will be in the First Officers. We need about 10 of them,” she said, adding that without adequate numbers, there’s a likelihood of an aircraft being parked as the few pilots  may travel for training or may go on leave.

    “We have a few that have relocated; we didn’t only hire Ugandans but also international pilots. So, some of them have relocated back to their countries.  We are now recruiting more pilots; the board has been supportive; they have approved for us to recruit pilots,” Bamuturaki said, adding that they have also recruited more people in reservations and ticketing office.

    She added that the airline is working hard to minimize flight delays and cancellations.

     

    By Hope Kalamira

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    Former Vision Group Boss Reveals How He Was Dismissed As Myopic And Parasitic In Controversial Coffee Deal…

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    Former Vision Group boss, Robert Kabushenga has revealed how he was kicked out of the controversial coffee deal.

    Kabushenga revealed that the current coffee debate started in December 2019 with the controversial Bill that later became law.

    “Since then, some of us who are active in different parts of the value chain have been exchanging ideas on what can be done. I am going to share them here,” he noted.

    Kabushenga added that they had hoped that there would be a forum where they can share their thinking.

    He disclosed, “Apart from the parliamentary committee on the Vinci Deal, we have simply been dismissed as foreign agents, parasitic & myopic. They see no use in engaging those who actually generate the coffee wealth.

    “Those of us invested in the coffee sector take a 20 or more years perspective. You can’t do that with myopia. We are involved in production of wealth so you can’t say that is parasitic. Ours is for export so we are working for ourselves not foreigners.”

    He divulged that it is only those whose income and livelihood is derived from taxes and levies that can be correctly described as parasites because they need to work for foreigners from whom they can extract ‘rents’.

    “Which is why they focus on the deals and are shortsighted in their outlook.”

    Kabushenga furthermore broke down what they, as coffee sector players would want to see.

    He contended, “We are in full agreement with the need to set up a soluble coffee plant. In fact, I have been lobbying for this in some corridors. It will increase the value of low-grade coffees that are fetching low prices in the market.

    “The best option is a freeze-dried coffee plant which gives the best instant coffee product. The model should be a PPP (Public Private Partnership) that invests in the plant but allows coffee final product entrepreneurs to rent time on the plant and produce their own coffee brands and market to the final consumer.

    “This will spur local innovation in the local coffee values chain and generate diverse and more meaningful employment opportunities. It will also grow local consumption since soluble coffee is more convenient to make. This is especially true for those who make coffee in their homes.”

    The coffee farmer also asserted that for the start, they can position markets across Africa but below the multinational processors as they build capacity.

    “It means that we can position in urban markets across Africa but below the multinational processors. This would allow development of new markets as we build capacity to compete.”

    He maintained, “We must look at our current market. Uganda is a net coffee exporter. We sell our coffee mainly to processors. This requires us to know how they want their product. Imposing a product on a consumer could backfire. To go directly to end-user market means to know how coffee is consumed.

    “It may be that by processing for export in the manner we claim will earn us more money, we may have the opposite effect. Processing may come at a high cost and will make our coffee expensive. Market entry barriers are higher in this segment which denies us access to this lucrative market.”

    Kabushenga also revealed that there has been no marketing of their coffee to give it a unique standing.

    “The processed coffee market is very unforgiving for those seeking to play here. Where is our coherent strategy in this regard? Over what sustained period will we invest in this to effect uptake of our coffee?”

    He added that the policy of confusion is derailing the sector and will undermine the processing agenda.

    He divulged that Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) argued that the Vinci processing approach was very good but now they want to do a consultancy on the viability of such a plant which is already portraying them as confused.

     

    By Kalamira Hope

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    Prime Minister Nabbanja Summons UBOS Bosses Over Misleading Advice On Parish Development Model…

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    Dr. Chris Mukiza and PM Robinah Nabbanja

    Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja has summoned the leadership of the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) over their ill advice on government’s Parish Development Model (PDM).

    In an exclusive interview with theGrapevine, Nabbanja revealed that it was improper for UBOS leadership led by Dr. Chris Mukiza, the Executive Director of UBOS and Dr. Albert Byamugisha, the UBOS chairperson to rubbish a government project before the media, instead of addressing it with government stakeholders.

    “I am going to summon them to my office, they should explain to me why they went to the media before briefing me or the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development,” she said.

    She added that the government officials especially the ministers and Members of Parliament have been mobilizing people to prepare to receive the money, and the people have in turn organised themselves through SACCOS to be given money to develop themselves, but telling them that the money is not coming make them lose all the hope they had and puts government in bad light.

    Nabbanja admitted that there are still a few hicups with data collection especially in towns and municipalities but in villages, authentic data of the beneficiaries is already available.

    “It is true in towns it is very difficult to follow those people who will borrow the Parish Development Model funds because many of them don’t have permanent homes, they are just renting. Foe example, today, a person who stays in Nateete may receive PDM funds and then shift the next day to Kasangati and also receives money from there. That is why we need to get a better solution on how to handle such incidences,” Nabanja explained.

    On Tuesday, Dr. Mukiza told journalists at his office in Kampala that the data that has been collected by the local leaders which the government is set to follow when delivering PDM cash is not authentic.

    “We shall not advise the government to release the money now because we have not completed the collection of data across the country. Until we get the right data, government cannot release this money,” Mukiza said.

    He further warned that if government releases the money, wrong beneficiaries will benefit and poor people will not because the data collected is not authentic.

    Government is set to release over Shs100m to each SACCO at the parish level for beneficiaries to borrow, invest and return later.

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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