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Poor Youth Movement Petition M7 To Stop BoU From Wasting Taxpayers’ Money

President Yoweri Museveni has been asked to intervene in the matter involving Bank of Uganda, Crane Bank and businessman Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia that has seen the central bank waste a lot of time and money in pursuing the businessman in court.

A petition that was written by Ssempala Zahid, the national spokesperson for Poor Youth Movement, wants President Museveni to intervene and save taxpayers from costs brought by what he described as incompetent Bank of Uganda staff in the case of Crane Bank under receivership against Meera Investments and Sudhir Ruparelia.

“We are writing to inform you that, on 23rd June 2020, in the middle of the COVID 19 Pandemic, in the worst period for all Ugandans locked down, the Court of Appeal (Court) ruled yet again against Crane Bank Limited in Liquidation (CBL) in a case where BOU filed to recover Shs397bn from Dr Sudhir Ruparelia claiming that he allegedly siphoned the same from CBL before it was closed and sold in 2017,” Ssempala says.

“It ought to be noted, that under HCCS 493 of 2017 the High Court had dismissed the case on the grounds among others that Crane Bank Limited (CBL) once put under receivership lost its ability to sue, that the statutory time for receivership was limited to 12 months.

That Crane Bank Limited was a foreign company and lacked locus to own land Free Hold or own the 48 properties that had been seized by the BOU and sold to DFCU bank and that there was no cause of action as there was nothing to sue for, as all assets had been sold to DFCU bank,”

“Upon dismissal of the case, CBL / BOU was condemned to pay costs of the suit which was at that time at 25% per annum of a sum believed to be in billions of shillings plus other legal costs,”

The petitioner explains that the greed in the BoU Legal Department misled the Board to authorise an Appeal which was filed to the Court of Appeal Civil Appeal No. 252 of 2019 “this appeal was dismissed and the costs awarded to Meera investments limited and Sudhir Ruparelia yet again. The total taxed bill is yet to be filed which according to Legal experts could be anything on the region of 150bn which will be visited on the taxpayers’ money, as BoU does not have its own money to pay those costs and will have to seek for recapitalization or a refund from Government after payment”.

“Your Excellency, it should be worth noting that, the government is currently facing deep budget cuts and might not realize the 22trillion budget for 2020/2021. This condition will be further aggravated by payment of the legal costs by taxpayers in the suit which by law must be paid and considering views/ analysis of legal experts will be lost again in the Supreme Court in the event of an Appeal,” he stressed.

“BoU has a litany of lost cases where billions have been paid to claimants and winners of cases. The performance of the Bank’s Legal Department could be as a result of over-reliance on so-called external legal experts who are bent on appealing any losses given that they will be paid. And as it is common knowledge, the higher they Appeal, the higher their fees.

A law firm billed BoU over 13bn for services in the CBL closure which services where later on regarded as ineffective and contrary to the law by COSASE as parliament faulted BOU in deliberately disregarding the law or legal procedures in the process of closure of CBL, which leaves one wondering why the said “legal experts” were paid a hefty 13bn for wrong advice,”

“Your Excellency, this cannot be sustained anymore by the taxpayer given the dwindling tax base consumed by the negative impact of COVID 19 on the Government’s bottom line,”

He also stressed that the case of closure of CBL and indeed other Banks have been a subject of investigation and probe by parliament and others which established that BOU had not done its job well and COSASE made a raft of proposals for reform of supervision and Legal Department which have all been washed aside by the Bank and the Ministry of Finance which should have given Parliament and Cabinet an update of the progress in implementing the COSASE recommendations.

“Instead the BoU has continued to accumulate costs in lost cases especially on CBL which ceased to be a Legal matter when it was evident the closure had all the hallmarks of a failed and botched regulatory action,”

“Your Excellency, you have recently demonstrated your ability to axe incompetent public officials who have either failed to execute their mandate or caused loss to Ugandan taxpayers. We beg you to take action over the incompetence in our mother bank,”

Ssempala fears that there are many questions which have left the Wanainchi puzzled like; When will someone be asked to account for actions of this Institution? When we have Governor BoU the same time chairman of the board, who punishes the Governor when he fails to execute his mandate as we all watched him pointing fingers at junior officers during the COSASE probe and junior officers pointing back?, When will Ugandans survive this wanton squander of public authority? When will BoU Board and its top Executives be called to order?

“As soon as the ruling was made dismissing the Appeal, the same Legal Head Mrs Margaret Kasule was summoned by the Board which was sitting on that same day to advise on the way forward and as expected, the Legal Head advised that the only way out of this was through an appeal to the Supreme Court. Indeed several interactions and engagements are underway to file an appeal to the Supreme Court where one of the Justices who dismissed the case is likely to be seated again this time as Chief Justice as he is Acting Chief Justice at the moment”.

“Even a blind person will see that this case which has so far cost Ugandans in excess of 20bn in costs to Lawyers is a waste of public resources. The COVID 19 pandemic has slowed down productivity, Ugandans have borne the brunt of biting poverty, revenue collection estimates have been reduced drastically fiscal discipline and austerity measures have been proposed and now Ugandans have to watch and see as the usual mistakes are being repeated by the same advisors misleading the BoU Board into entering a bottomless pit that is likely to cost BoU an arm and a leg”.

“Many questions have been raised by the public in regard to the viability of the said Appeal by BOU to the Supreme Court like; what is the ultimate goal of this appeal, is it to appease the Governor or the President? Is it to recover real money? If so how much has the BoU recovered in the last 20 years of Bank resolutions?”.

“The Bank has instead sunk billions into the coffers of expensive unthankful legal sharks who have no heart for Ugandans but their wallets”.

“Your Excellency, as your Bazukulu and taxpayers who feel the pinch of our monies being wasted by BOU in endless litigation, the purpose of this petition is to say enough is enough. Let this wanton disregard to the financial bleeding of BoU STOP HERE. Let Sudhir Ruparelia be paid his money and let Ugandans start with a new slate”.

4G Networks Support Communities Through Covid-19 Pandemic

Much of the current hype in the telecommunications space focuses on the roll-out of 5G technology, the new mobile networks that will power the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). But it is, in fact, 4G technology – LTE – that is providing lifesaving connectivity during the Covid-19 pandemic right now when communities need it most. 

Called Long Term Evolution to give it its full name, LTE is the network technology used by 52 per cent of the world’s mobile devices. As such, it is this 4G tech that has underpinned the innovative digital initiatives supporting communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The pandemic and the lockdown have presented humanity with mortal challenges. People, countries and organisations are rising to these challenges, often using our evolving telecommunications capabilities. However, the new era has come with opportunities, which innovators have also been able to grasp, thanks to 4G connectivity. 

This will remain the case over the medium term. 

“Until 2025, LTE will continue to do the heavy lifting,” said Henry Calvert, head of the Network 2020 future network programme at the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), “Our 4G networks will remain key… They will continue to be important for the next five-to-seven years,” he said.

Speaking at the recent 2020 GSMA LTE Summit, Calvert said that during the pandemic, LTE was coming to the fore in the provision of telehealth and telemedicine, as well as expanding network services to hot spots to support the ill through hospitals and other healthcare services.

Besides the significant role 4G plays in supporting health services, it also provides for the data and connectivity needs of the new lifestyles taking shape since lockdown. 

Calvert said operators report that data usage has increased by more than 70 per cent per customer during the pandemic, driven by online services and consumption of on-demand video services like Netflix, which recently reported adding 15,8 million subscribers in a year – more than double expectations.  

“There has even been a call to on-demand video providers to reduce the quality of video they’re deploying and encourage people to use standard-definition rather than high-definition TV to preserve the capacity in the networks for online education, online health and online businesses,” he said. 

“As transformation continues it’s been focused on expanding 4G capacity,” he said. “But the 5G transformation is clearly going to be needed in the future to meet online demands.” 

During COVID-19, 4G networks have also been instrumental in supporting contact-tracing apps, which can locate and notify the contacts of infected individuals remotely, while still protecting the privacy of users. LTE networks have also provided free data to support contact tracking to do as much as possible to ensure the infection isn’t spread any further. 

LTE also underpins the recent shifts in lifestyles, with large proportions of the population working, educating their children, shopping and socialising from home using online platforms. 

So critical is LTE to this new paradigm, that it must remain the priority infrastructure over the short term, while societies grapple with the pandemic. 

“Our GSMA intelligence groups show that there will be a short-term dip in 5G deployment,” said Calvert. “But that will quickly recover to normal levels. We still see launches of 5G networks, as we now know that delivering on the data demand that has been met by our LTE networks can only get better with 5G.”

Former ICT Minister Mulira Commends Victoria University Online Learning Initiatives

Senior Presidential Advisor on ICT Hon Ham Mulira has commended Victoria University for putting in place early measures to help students continue with their classes uninterrupted during the COVID 19 pandemic.

Hon Mulira while addressing the media at Victoria University in Kampala said that such early initiatives like giving each new student a laptop will provide them with ability to study away from the university during this lockdown period caused by coronavirus.

“Corona Virus started as a health problem in China several thousands of miles away. We did not know the kind of impact it was going to have on several sectors. We have seen what it has done to so many economies around the world,”

“One of the areas which has been greatly affected is education. Students had to be asked to go home because they could not stay in an environment with great risks for COVID 19 infection,” Mulira said.

He adds that government through the National Council for Higher Education has come up with online/ distance learning guidelines for Higher learning education institutions on how to use technology as a medium of communication to impart knowledge to students while they are away from school.

” In Uganda we have 15m students who were asked to go home because they could not continue with their formal education in traditional means yet education has to continue. The solution was to adopt technology in the infusion of imparting knowledge through online/distance learning.”

The former ICT minister however explained that COVID 19 has come with some positive effects on education saying that online learning had been tried long ago and failed but said the COVID rebooted the interest in need of online education.

” At Victoria University students who register get laptops issued to him or her and they started this before COVID. This has been ongoing and provides their students with the ability to study away from the university” Mulira noted.

He further asked the university to address the issue of connectivity using internet to enable students get the best.

Dr Krishna Sharma the Vice chancellor Victoria University also noted that it is the responsibility of universities and education institutions to foresee and come up with innovative ways to ensure they are not interrupted by any pandemic.

“It was the responsibility of universities to foresee and prepare self accordingly. For Victoria University our team had already done guidelines two months ago before these of NCHE came out. We did a survey to find out the challenges of students, our staff and ourselves came out with our own guidelines,” he said.

Dr. Sharma says the university is ready to commence online teaching adding that all the issues raised in the guidelines by NCHE have already been in place at Victoria University.

“As VU most of the issues NCHE is asking we have been practicing them. We have been using them with our students and training our staff with effective utilizing e-learning resources”.

“We are ready to roll. We started getting students to apply, register and pay online. We can also teach online and evaluate them online. This is the responsibility of the universities to take up and come up with innovative ways that best fits our staff, our localities and students”.

He said the online classes will be conducted at free cost while those who will not be able will be provided with printed contents for self-study.

SOURCE: command1Post.com

Senior Presidential Advisor on ICT Hon Ham Mulira has commended Victoria University for putting in place early measures to help students continue with their classes uninterrupted during the COVID 19 pandemic.

Hon Mulira while addressing the media at Victoria University in Kampala said that such early initiatives like giving each new student a laptop will provide them with ability to study away from the university during this lockdown period caused by corona virus.

“Corona Virus started as a health problem in China several thousands of miles away. We did not know the kind of impact it was going to have on several sectors. We have seen what it has done to so many economies around the world,”

“One of the areas which has been greatly affected is education. Students had to be asked to go home because they could not stay in an environment with great risks for COVID 19 infection,” Mulira said.

He adds that government through the National Council for Higher Education has come up with online/ distance learning guidelines for Higher learning education institutions on how to use technology as a medium of communication to impart knowledge to students while they are away from school.

” In Uganda we have 15m students who were asked to go home because they could not continue with their formal education in traditional means yet education has to continue. The solution was to adopt technology in the infusion of imparting knowledge through online/distance learning.”

The former ICT minister however explained that COVID 19 has come with some positive effects on education saying that online learning had been tried long ago and failed but said the COVID rebooted the interest in need of online education.

” At Victoria University students who register get laptops issued to him or her and they started this before COVID. This has been ongoing and provides their students with the ability to study away from the university” Mulira noted.

He further asked the university to address the issue of connectivity using internet to enable students get the best.

Dr Krishna Sharma the Vice chancellor Victoria University also noted that it is the responsibility of universities and education institutions to foresee and come up with innovative ways to ensure they are not interrupted by any pandemic.

“It was the responsibility of universities to foresee and prepare self accordingly. For Victoria University our team had already done guidelines two months ago before these of NCHE came out. We did a survey to find out the challenges of students, our staff and ourselves came out with our own guidelines,” he said.

Dr. Sharma says the university is ready to commence online teaching adding that all the issues raised in the guidelines by NCHE have already been in place at Victoria University.

“As VU most of the issues NCHE is asking we have been practicing them. We have been using them with our students and training our staff with effective utilizing e-learning resources”.

“We are ready to roll. We started getting students to apply, register and pay online. We can also teach online and evaluate them online. This is the responsibility of the universities to take up and come up with innovative ways that best fits our staff, our localities and students”.

He said the online classes will be conducted at free cost while those who will not be able will be provided with printed contents for self-study.

SOURCE: command1Post.com

COVID-19 Pandemic Deepens Need For Low Cost Effective Remittances

As the world commemorated the 2020 International Day of Family Remittances (IDFR) on June 16 in this game-changing year, it is important to draw attention to the millions of migrant workers globally who play a vital role in global economies says the UN.

Countries around the world went to battle with a novel virus that emerged late in 2019 in order to save millions of lives, enforcing strict stay-at-home measures to curb the virus’s  spread. As a result economies globally came to a complete or a near-complete standstill.

This will have directly impacted the more than 200 million migrant workers who support their 800 million family members back in their home countries (United Nations, 2020).

In April, the World Bank predicted the sharpest decline of remittances in recent history. Global remittances were projected to decline sharply by about 20 percent in 2020 due to the economic crisis induced by the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown. Remittance flows to Sub-Saharan Africa are expected to decline by 23.1 percent to reach $37 billion in 2020, while a recovery of 4 percent is expected in 2021.

For those families depending on remittances to fund their basic living costs, the risk of falling below the poverty line has increased substantially.

Cashless transaction

This illustrates Huawei’s position that Digital Financial Services (DFS) offers a new means for people, government and businesses to transact in a cashless way.

“With the pandemic forcing people to socially distance themselves from others, the adoption of DFS has been increasing across countries like Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa. In Kenya where mobile money has already made great inroads, the government has actively promoted cashless transactions as a means to limit contact spread of the virus,” says Edison Xie, Director of Media Affairs, Huawei Southern Africa Region.

A MasterCard global consumer study conducted in April 2020 indicated that 75 percent of South African consumers were using contactless payments with 88 percent of the South African respondents viewing contactless as a cleaner as well as faster way to pay and to limit the amount of time spent in stores.

Estimates for DFS adoption globally may be as high has 67 percent post pandemic adjusted 5-10 percent upwards from pre-pandemic estimates of 57% (Forbes Africa, 2020). Yet for the most marginalised and vulnerable in our economies and in society, some barriers remain that prevent more widespread adoption and use of DSF for remittances.

High cost

“”The most expensive corridors are observed mainly in the Southern African region, with costs as high as 20 percent. At the other end of the spectrum, the less expensive corridors had average costs of less than 3.6 percent,” says Xie.

The World Bank estimated a cost of around 6.7 percent on a remittance value of $200 but for Sub Saharan Africa, this cost rose to 9 percent even through intra-regional migrants in Sub-Saharan Africa comprised over two-thirds of all international migration from the region. The United Nations estimated that between US$200-300 was spent on the costs of transfers (United Nations, 2020).

Xie says that the major contributor to the high costs of remittances is the costly operations of cross border money operators handling cash transfers.

“Reducing the reliance on cash transfers and currency exchanges is thus an important way to reduce remittance costs for those sending money to Sub Saharan countries.  Digital money transfer options become essential to facilitating lower costs remittances for migrant workers,” he said.

As DFS adoption increases and the ecosystem expands to bring in more services suited to the market it serves, evolution of the platforms coupled with increased support from government in the form of consumer protection, costs of remittances can be expected to gradually reduce.

Digital Divide

Digital Financial Services allow for a multitude of benefits to be realised for countries and their people. Greater control of funds (how they flow and who they reach), improved accountability in systems and the ability of recipients of funds digitally to better manage resources for their own development. It is important, however, for the full digital financial services ecosystem and value chain to be considered when initiatives are undertaken to improve participation rates.

DFS and remittances will thrive when the basics are in place to ensure every citizen in a country has equal access to the tools to participate in this part of the digital economy. Access to Broadband connectivity, access to smartphones to access digital financial and other services, access to affordable data, relevant content and the ability to understand and use these services are all essential precursors to a fully participative population.

It is therefore crucial for governments across the continent to put their full might behind addressing the digital divide; firstly with widespread, quality Broadband access to all and then reducing barriers to accessing the Internet and digital services with speed.

“Let us use this International Remittance Day to take stock of where we are as countries responding to our people’s needs for services to improve the quality of their lives, in particular financial services,” says Xie

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