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We Won’t Refund Your OTT Tax – Finance PS Muhakanizi

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The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Keith Muhakanizi has asked Ugandans to forget about the refund of the 1% Mobile Money tax (OTT) as directed by the president in August.

Muhakanizi says that the money was collected legally and spent legally on services to the Ugandans. He disclosed this during a meeting where he was presenting the 2nd quarter report of Government expenditure at the Ministry of finance headquarters in Kampala today.

Muhakanizi said that Government under the Ministry of finance has released the funds for 2nd quarter of the financial year 2018 /2019 putting much emphasis on effective service delivery. He added that this has been done early before the 10th day so that there is effective delivery services to the public and also eliminate complaints from some ministries when they delay to deliver.

When asked about the growing government debt burden and its implications, Muhakanizi said that there is no cause of alarm and that the government was borrowing for projects that are sustainable to avoid being trapped in debt like what happened in Malawi. Muhakanizi revealed that in the last two months, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has collected 149 billion above the target and that the GDP has grown by 6.1 %, a clear sign that the economy is growing.

Muhakanizi gave the breakdown of the funds released as follows: Wages – UGX 4.2244 billion, Non-wages UGX. 5,309.09 billion, Government development – UGX 5,229.00 billion, Arrears – UGX 380.50 billion, External Financing – UGX 7,734.54 billion among others.

He added that a total of 4.321.1 trillion has been released for quarter two as part of government of Uganda expenditure which reflects 29.3% of the fully approved budget of the government of Uganda excluding external financing, Appropriation in Aid (AIA), Debt, Karuma and Isimba dams.

 

By Remmy Atugonza

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NOT OVER YET: Bank Of Uganda Files Notice Of Appeal Challenging Judge Wangutusi’s Judgment, They Want Sudhir To Vomit Shs397 Billion..

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BOU Governor Tumusiime Mutebile and Sudhir Ruparelia

The Central Bank through their lawyers of Byamugisha and company Advocates have filed a notice of appeal in the court of appeal challenging High Court commercial division judge David Wangutusi‘s judgment to recover over 100 million dollars (Shs397 billion) from tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia and Meera  Investment Limited. 

On Monday, The Head of Commercial Court, David Wangutusi dismissed a case in which Bank of Uganda (BoU) Sudhir Ruparelia for allegedly fleecing his own bank (Crane Bank in receivership) of Shs397 billion in fraudulent transactions. The Central Bank was seeking to recover the Shs397bn.

Wangutusi also ordered BoU to pay Sudhir’s legal costs. In his ruling, Wangutusi observed that Crane Bank in receivership at the time of instituting the commercial suit against the businessman and his Meera Investments Company, was none existent, hence never had powers to sue.

Wangutusi added that Bank of Uganda lacked legal basis to sue Sudhir for allegedly transferring sums money from the internal accounts of the defunct Crane Bank which were not mapped on the financial institution’s balance sheet.  BOU claims that the learned judge errored when he dismissed their suit because there was credible evidence that Sudhir withdrew 80,000,000 dollars from Crane Bank as payments to persons, companies and entities for Sudhir’s benefits. 

 The central bank further claims that Sudhir withdraw Us9.27m through Technology Associates which has no contract with Crane Bank or Meera investments. The central bank wants the three justices of the court of appeal to declare that Wangutusi errored in facts and law to dismisses their suit against the city tycoon. The bank claims that Sudhir mismanages the tax payer’s money worth shs400bn which was withdrawn from the treasury to save Crane Bank. 

Tycoon Sudhir celebrated the dismissal of the BOU suit and revealed to journalists that he has defeated BOU mafias who stole his bank.

By Sengooba Alirabaki

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OPINION: Free Trade For African Countries: Continental Block Will Spur Trade And Develop Africa

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In his book, “Sowing The Mustard Seed”, Second Edition, President Museveni articulates the case for Pan-Africanism with a slant, in part, to business dividends. “The milk production of Uganda is now 2 billion litres, up from 200 million litres in 1986. Uganda, however, currently, consumes only 800 million litres per annum”. He adds that; “What will happen to the rest then? This is true of bananas, goats, cattle, fruits and other products? Our second layer of saviours are the East Africans, the South Sudanese, the Congolese and other regional partners”.

The President has been, and remains a strong advocate of regional integration in Africa. Now, further to the likes of EAC and COMESA, the big one is here. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) endorsed by African Union (AU) Member States in Kigali, in March 2018, takes effect next year. This, after the ratification of the operational aspects of AfCFTA, at an AU extra-ordinary Summit in Niamey, Niger on 7th July 2019 – The New Vision, 20th July 2019.

The essence of Niamey pact is that Africa’s Free Trade Area will be operational effective July 2020. In Niamey, the necessary instruments were signed by the required minimum 22 AU Member States, including Uganda. It is a major break-through for business across the continent. With 55 Member countries, Africa’s Free Trade Area will dwarf ALL trading blocks, including the EU, in terms of membership. 

AfCFTA is bringing together a combined market of 1.2 billion people and economies with an aggregate GDP of USD 2.5 trillion. It is a huge market under which countries in Africa, will trade with each other, minus tariff barriers. AfCFTA will spur industrialization, grow economies, create jobs, strengthen indigenous capabilities and ease Africa’s vulnerability to external trading shocks.

For Uganda, niche items include fresh, organic grain foodstuffs, which have ready market in countries like Congo, Angola, Senegal, Namibia and the Saharan, North African Countries. Our other niche items include milk, fruits, fish, beef and household consumer items. Uganda is also progressively building capacity in oil and gas and services like tourism and ICT innovations, from which we stand to reap, among others. 

Intra-Africa business will slash Africa’s trade deficit, considering the continent imports food items alone, worth USD 60 billion annually. Relatedly, under the current skewed trade regime, intra-Africa business is at 16% while that with Europe, for instance, is at 65%.

Therefore, the AfCFTA will unlock Africa’s massive economic potential, right from the short term. Indeed, intra-African trade is now projected to rise to 60% by 2022. Retaining the USD 60 billion Africa is “donating” to Europe in annual food imports, will greatly boost the continent socio-economically.

In a riveting address, at a Nelson Mandela Memorial Lecture at Makerere University on 31st August 2017, President Museveni submitted that; “Africa is a huge continent with a land area of 11.7 million square miles, which makes it 12 times bigger than India, 4 times bigger than USA and China each and more than 2 times the size of Russia. We are somewhat working on economic integration through the Regional Economic Communities; although we should be more religious and focused on this issue”. 

Credit to him and other regional leaders for bringing AfCTFA to life. We should, therefore, position Uganda tap into this huge continental market. Priority considerations include accelerating industrialisation, improving product/service value chains, fast-tracking oil, gas, energy and minerals’ development. Others are expanding transport and ICT infrastructure, enhancing agricultural production and aligning our fiscal policies, as may be applicable.

Moses Watasa

Commissioner, Communication and Information Dissemination

MINISTRY OF ICT & NATIONAL GUIDANCE

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Battle For Supremacy At Vision Group As Bukedde News Editor Fires His Deputy’s ‘Diehard’ Reporters

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All is not well at Robert Kabushenga’s Vision Group premises especially Bukedde Newspaper newsroom.

According to multiple sources from the industrial area based printing and publishing house, the war is between Bukedde news editor Ssalongo Richard Kayira and his deputy Semei Wesaali.

Sources told the Grapevine that the silent war erupted when Kayira, the head of the news room published an internal memo with a list of news reporters fired from Bukedde newspaper.  According to sources, Kayira also ordered the security at the gate not to allow the journalists on the list to enter the company premises.

“The list was published but they did not inform us that we were going to be fired,” one of the journalists on the list complained.

The affected journalists petitioned their boss Godfrey Kulubya the head of all the local newspapers at Vision Group.  In their petition, the over 50 reporters told Kulubya that the list is discriminative.

‘The list targeted some individuals because they are diehards to editor Semei Wesaali. Kayira thinks that they are helping him take his position,” one of the reporters who petitioned Kulubya stated. They further explained to Kulubya that there are names of people which were left out yet they are poor performers when compared to some of the people on the list, they even cited some names.

Kulubya was told that most of the journalists left out were working under Kayira in his new DGF project.

On Monday this week, Kulubya called an emergency meeting in Bukedde new room and asked for a written explanation from Kayira why he fired staff without his knowledge or that of the Chief Executive Officer Robert Kabushenga.  Kulubya denounced the list and asked the journalists in the meeting to tell their friends who were fired to come back and work with immediate effect.

“For your information the competition is high so you cannot start firing staff, if it is necessary, let us follow the necessary procedures,” Kulubya was quoted telling the newsroom.

Kulubya further told the meeting that they have plans of laying off a number of reporters so that they can remain with a few competitive ones.

Sources told this website that Vision group bosses are trying to set up new rules where journalists multi task for the various platforms.

According to the new plan, a journalist, when assigned to cover a story, is supposed to file it for New Vision newspaper, Bukedde newspaper, Bukedde radio and Bukedde TV.

When the news about the new plan fell in the ears of reporters, some panicked and bought video cameras and recorders to quickly adapt to the new rules.

When the Grapevine talked to some of the reporters who were not on the list, they disclosed that the journalists who were fired are lazy and don’t want to work. They are just using Bukedde newspaper as an address to extort money from the public.  

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