8 July 2006

Uganda: France Writes Off Uganda's Shs19 Billion Debt

FRANCE is writting off Uganda's debt amounting to Euros 8 million (Shs19.1 billion), an official has said.

Mr Jerome Dubois-Merchant, the French Embassy Counsellor for Cooperation and Cultural Affairs, said details of the debt cancellation are expected to be effected in September this year.

"The debt relief cancellation is earmarked for the benefit of the health and education sector," Mr Dubois-Mercent told journalists during the French National Day media reunion at the French Embassy in Kampala on Thursday.

The French Ambassador, Mr Bernard Garancher, who hosted the journalists reunion said, the 8 million Euros debt cancellation was being delayed by bureaucracy between Kampala and Paris.

Last week, Britain announced to cut its budgetary support to Uganda for the financial year 2006/07 by £20 million.

The move is a show of protest against bloated public administration expenditures, governance and allocation of inadequate resources towards the energy sector.

This is the second time, Britain, one of Uganda's principal donors is cutting aid to Uganda. The first was in December 2005. A press statement from Dfid said yesterday that Uganda would now receive only £35 million for this financial year.

But Dubois-Mercent said in June, the French Development Agency signed a debt relief agreement with the Ministry of Finance amounting to $9.6 million, targeting the health sector.

On the northern insurgency, Garancher said, his country would not send its commandos to eliminate the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) leader, Joseph Kony.

The French Military Attaché in Uganda, Lt. Col. Jean-Jacques Bernardon, presented a paper on France's current military assistance to Uganda but did not say if it involved war materials.

But he said a commando course for the UPDF officers was being organised in Djibouti and another for the platoon commanders in Senegal.

"Senior officers of the UPDF have since 2003 been invited to the annual Forum of High Defence Studies on African cooperation in Paris," Col. Bernardon said. He said this year, Brig. George Etyang and Ms Naome Kibaju, a senior civil servant in logistics are attending the course.

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