Uganda: Busoga Premier Blasts Late-Coming Leaders

Upset by the tardiness of area leaders, Busoga kingdom prime minister recently told local officials to be more serious next time when invited to attend meetings.

Dr Joseph Muvawala, who was speaking at the Bank of Uganda Town Hall Meetings in Jinja last week, said it showed lack of respect when leaders are invited and even reminded but still either don't turn up or come late.

"There is no day one goes to an interview late; this is lack of respect to people who call us. Let us respect our visitors, and as the prime minister, it is my duty to reprimand you... we can do better," he said.

Bank of Uganda officials were in Jinja for a two-day engagement largely to increase public awareness, understanding and appreciation of the central bank.

Officials from the bank said by the end of the engagements, the public would understand the role, function, decisions, policy actions, services and products of the BoU.

It was also an opportunity for BoU's top management to seek feedback from the public and enhance the bank's transparency and accountability. Muvawala told the BoU officials that Busoga sub-region suffers from a poor saving culture and therefore, more financial literacy programmes should be developed for the area.

"Busoga people are only interested in their wives and land. They don't care much about saving yet they are the very people who are taking loans and mismanaging the money hence their properties are taken; help us with more financial programmes," he said.

The premier also called upon parliamentarians to respect Bank of Uganda and support it rather than condemning its tough actions against errant banks.

"It's critical for us to take the central bank seriously; you can't use democracy in banking, the decisions will always be rough and tough; so, I urge parliamentarians to understand its operations," he said in reference to a recent parliamentary investigation of BoU's closure of seven commercial banks.

James Kahooza, a member of the BoU board, said the general public never gets to know what happens at Bank of Uganda.

"We recently realised that there is need to go out and tell the people what we do, why some banks operate the way they operate, why interests are set at a certain percentage and why some banks are closed," he said.

Dr Louis Kasekende, the deputy governor, BoU, said the event is a continuation of a series of activities that were started in 2016 as part of the bank's golden jubilee commemorations.

"Over time, the bank's management and board of directors had observed various misrepresentation and misunderstanding of its mandate and sometimes clear lack of information especially upcountry," he said.

Kasekende added that public outreach activities were instituted to explain its mandate and account to the public for its policies and actions.

"More importantly, it is an avenue to strengthen the linkage between the bank and the local leadership; the general population for both sensitisation process and seeking feedback from our stakeholders," he said.

He also cautioned the public against dealing with unregulated financial institutions, saying there are many benefits that accrue from dealing with regulated financial institutions.

"The public should not be duped into dealing with unlicensed and unregulated financial institutions that are in many ways disguised schemes to defraud the community," he said.

"Security agencies and other arms of government should take a firm stand to wipe out ponzi schemes; otherwise, if we leave unregulated financial institutions the public will be in losses and this could damage confidence in our financial system."

Kasekende revealed that BoU was aware of the counterfeiting of currency in the area, which is quite high, but he said the vice will be dealt with firmly.

"The Bank of Uganda has proposed amendments to the Bank of Uganda Act that has included tougher penalties and sanctions to deter the vice," he said.

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