Earth Finds

Earth Finds

Museveni Finally Replaces Scandal Burdened Kasekende

Any chances of Dr Louis Kasekende returning to Bank of Uganda in the capacity of deputy governor have been flushed down the gutter after President Yoweri Museveni announced that he had appointed Dr Michael Atingi-Ego as the new deputy governor subject to parliament's approval.

The president also appointed John Musinguzi Rujoki as the new Commissioner General(CG) of Uganda Revenue Authority  (URA). Rujoki replaces Doris Akol, who has spent five years in the CG job, having replaced Allen Kagina in 2014.

“By virtue of powers granted to me by the Constitution, I have appointed Mr John Musinguzi Rujoki as the new Commissioner General of URA This appointment takes immediate effect. I have also appointed Dr Michael Atingi-Ego as the new Deputy Governor, Bank of Uganda. I have forwarded his name to Parliament for vetting,” the president said in a brief message.

The deputy governor job fell vacant upon expiry of his contract early this year. Despite frantically seeking the president’s audience in an effort to be reappointed, Kasekende was unsuccessful thanks to the scandals hanging under his name at the central bank.

Kasekende’s name and the wrong key decisions he made were prominent when parliament was investigating the central bank for irregularly selling seven commercial banks, the latest being Crane Bank.

Parliament heard that Kasekende and former executive director in charge of supervision at Bank of Uganda Justine Bagyenda sold Crane Bank to dfcu Bank via a phone call breaking all legal procedures involved for such a deal to happen.

The Inspectorate of Government was also investigating Kasekende for not declaring all of his wealth and the manner in which he acquired all the riches registered to his name directly or through accomplices.

And while the president awaits parliament to approve his appointments, Dr Adam Mugume was appointed by Bank of Uganda board to carry out the duties of deputy governor in an acting capacity.

Dr Atingi-Ego, according to Watchdog News, is a seasoned economic policy official who obtained his first degree from Makerere University and later proceeded for postgraduate studies in the United Kingdom where he got a master’s degree from the Cardiff Business School, University of Wales and a PhD from Liverpool University.

He started his career at the Bank of Uganda rising through the ranks to become the Executive Director, Research. In 2008 he took up an assignment with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as Deputy Director of the African Department (AFR).

Centre For Budget & Tax Policy Has Suggested These Fiscal Measures To Help Govt During COVID-19

Centre for Budget and Tax Policy (CBTP) has suggested to President Yoweri Museveni ‘bold and drastic fiscal measures’ that when implemented will stabilize the current disruptions that have been caused by coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

These measures by Centre for Budget and Tax Policy will according to a letter from the NGO’s executive director Patrick Katabazi to President Museveni and copied to the Prime Minister and minister of finance will go a long way in setting a firm foundation for future economic recovery. 

“It is therefore paramount that the measures being undertaken currently to avert the spread of the infection are matched with social protection measures to cushion the population through this period by smoothening consumption patterns among the poor and vulnerable,” Katabazi wrote to the president.

And with the biggest working population in the country not being able to go to work because of the directives by the president, Katabazi notes that curtailing this labour supply has dire consequences on households. He said that the drastic fiscal measures they are proposing will support both poor and non-poor during this period.

“These unprecedented measures are necessary to stabilize the current disruptions that have been occasioned by the impact of the COVID-19. They may seem radical but we implore the government to look at them critically and either adopt them or improve them,” he added.

To begin with, Centre for Budget and Tax Policy wants the government to improve the Senior Citizens Grants programme to cover older people from the age 60 years something that will increase the number of beneficiaries from 200, 000 to 1.2m people in rural areas to 300, 000 urban centres. Also, the monthly money paid should increase from Shs25, 000 to Shs50, 000.

By targeting this population, which is 2m, the government will be directly supporting about 10m Ugandans indirectly given that an average household in Uganda has about 5 people, the NGO said, adding that this intervention requires additional funding of Shs257.54bn for at least 4 months. The programme currently costs a total of Shs142.46bn

The NGO wants public servants earning less than Shs500, 000 like teachers, nurses, police officers among others to be given a top-up of at least Shs100, 000. This will cover about 150, 000 people at a cost of Shs45bn. A similar approach according to the NGO should be extended to the formal private sector where workers getting less than 1m are also topped up with Shs100, 000 because they pay PAYE.

Also, it is suggested that people in the informal sector like boda boda riders supported with an income stimulus to avert income disruptions they are facing. And for that needs to liaise with landlords to reduce the pressure on tenants during this period.  

And in recognition of people directly battling the virus in the country like medical workers, security guards and journalists, the think tank says special consideration should be made in form of allowances and insurance cover to the dedicated professionals on the COVID-19 frontline.

Centre for Budget and Tax Policy recommends that government pays its domestic arrears to businesses it owes money and for it to renegotiate with creditors in an effort to restructure the country's public debt portfolio with a view of rescheduling repayment timelines.

The advocacy group is also in support of government releasing payment for pensioners in a timely manner as well a designing a plan for clearing area.

 "The senior citizens are not only vulnerable economically but also highly susceptible to having adverse effects when infected by the virus," it said.

The NGO is of the view that government suspends non-critical projects during this period and also shut down non-essential government business like workshops, traveling abroad, field trips and consumables to save.

Kingfisher ESIA Certificate Won’t Conserve Environment & Livelihoods

By Catherine Twongyeirwe

On Monday 9th March 2020, NEMA awarded CNOOC a Certificate with conditions approving the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report for the Kingfisher Development Project.

Kingfisher project is located in Kikuube and Hoima districts in Uganda which shares the border with the DRC. In addition, oil for the project will be drilled from under Lake Albert. Any damage to the lake arising from the vertical and horizontal drilling or any oil spills from the project poses an environmental risk.

The Kingfisher project is located in sensitive ecosystems such as Lake Albert, Bugoma Central Forest Reserve, Kamansinig River and other. The project area also has communities that entirely depend on fishing for food, income and other critical aspects.

The Kingfisher oil project is comprised of the listed infrastructural components, a Central Processing Facility (CPF), heated feeder pipelines, 46.2km feeder pipeline from the CPF to the refinery in Hoima, flowlines from well pads to the CPF, four well pads, water abstraction station on Lake Albert, access roads, workers’ camps, underground electricity cable, a drilling storage yard, An airfield among others.

Despite the gaps in the Kingfisher ESIA report and violation of laws during the two Kingfisher public hearing that took place in June 2019 in Kikuube and Hoima, NEMA issued a certificate of approval with conditions for the Kingfisher project.

The certificate with conditions is insufficient to conserve the environment and livelihoods because during the public hearings organized for the Kingfisher project, laws were violated and there were gaps in the Kingfisher ESIA report. Among the laws violated during the public hearings included:

  • Failure by the presiding officer to organise more than two public hearings was contrary to guideline 6 of the EIA public hearing guidelines. The guideline empowers the presiding officer to hold a hearing in various locations in the country depending on the location, nature of the project and the cost involved in holding the public hearing. Therefore the public hearings were insufficient having big and unmanageable numbers at the public hearings. 
  • Guideline 15 of the 1999 EIA public hearing guidelines which gives a right to interested parties to use ten minutes to make their presentations were violated. While the guideline provides that the presiding officer may extend or limit the duration of a presentation, limiting community members who are most affected by a project was against the principles of natural justice. The presiding officer asked community members who made informal presentations were asked to ask only one question. This showed that the hearings were not organised to listen to the views of the people but were a formality meant to mislead the public that there was public participation in the project. 
  • Further, the public hearings were against Guideline 4(4) that requires that all public hearings be conducted in a structured manner so as to permit a fair and just examination of all information and matters relevant for the hearing. Organising two public hearings for two districts which were participated in by over 12,000 people meant that NEMA and PAU failed to ensure that a fair presentation of views by the interested stakeholders was undertaken. Indeed, while the developer used over one hour to make a presentation, communities were given little time. Therefore they was no fairness during the hearings. 
  • Article 41 of the 1995 Uganda Constitution was violated which provides the public with the right to access information in the hands of the state while the study covered both environmental and social impacts of the project, the developer did not attach copies of the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) reports in the ESIA submitted to NEMA. In turn, NEMA did not publically share a full ESIA report including the project RAPs for public comments. It is unfortunate that the developer did not submit the RAPs alongside the ESIA for public scrutiny. The None Technical Summary (NTS) of the Kingfisher oil project ESIA report states that the mitigations for the social and economic impacts of the land acquisitions under the Kingfisher project and resettlement activities shall be in the RAPs. However, these RAPs were not part of the Kingfisher ESIA report. NEMA is therefore called on the public to present comments on both the social and environmental impacts of the Kingfisher oil project in absence of the said RAPs. This means the developer presented an incomplete ESIA to NEMA and therefore comments were based on incomplete reports.

In addition to the violation of laws, there were gaps in the ESIA report for the Kingfisher project, among them were failure to involve transboundary communities: The Kingfisher oil project will impact Lake Albert, a shared lake between Uganda and DRC. River Nile also crosses through Lake Albert on its way to Sudan, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. This means that the project will affect transboundary communities. However, the communities were not involved in the public hearings. 

While the Kingfisher project’s ESIA report noted that oil will be transported in heated pipelines from the oil wells to the CPF and to the oil refinery, it failed to provide information on the risks of heated pipelines on flora and fauna and how those risks can be avoided or mitigated. The impacts of heated pipelines on some sensitive ecosystems such as Bugoma forest which harbors chimpanzees could pose a serious threat to their sustainability.

In a nutshell, issuing a certificate with conditions to CNOOC will not conserve the environment and livelihood basing on the gaps in the ESIA report and violation of laws during the public hearings as discussed above. The certificate should be cancelled until the gaps are addressed.

 

Cedric Babu, Ruparelia Foundation Deliver Food Supplies To Quarantining Kampala Suburbs

As the carnage of coronavirus disease (COVID19) continues to haunt Uganda, Ruparelia Foundation and aspiring Member of Parliament for Kampala Central Cedric Babu Ndlima delivered foodstuffs, healthy kits and sensitized residents in the parishes of Kagugube, Bukesa and Kisenyi in Kampala about the virus.

They delivered items like sugar, maize flour, beans & soap to help beneficiaries sanitize and fend off the rampaging coronavirus disease also trending as COVID19. The supplies are aimed at supporting residents as they self-quarantine to avoid contracting the deadly virus.

 

Speaking to residents in Bukesa, Sylvia Kizza said they have received 5500 bags with items that are now being distributed according to the needs of people in all the parishes of Kampala.

In some parishes, bags with supplies were given to local council one leaders to deliver to needy homesteads in their areas. Also, Dr Umar Ssenkubuge equipped these local leaders with the much-needed Coronavirus knowledge and skills of preventing it.

The tour by Ruparelia Foundation and Cedric Babu continues tomorrow with a tour of Kamwokya 2 at 9:30 am, Kamwokya 1 at 11:30 am and Kololo 1,2,3,&4 at 1:00pm.

 

Monday will see the team traverse Mengo (9:30 am), Old Kampala (11:30 am), Shauri Yako (1:00 pm) and Nakasero 1,2,3&4 (3:00 pm) before concluding the tour on Tuesday with a visit to Industrial Area (9:30 am) and Industrial Area Civic Center (11:00 am).

Jyotsna Ruparelia co-founder of Ruparelia Foundation says coronavirus does not discriminate against social class, religion or ethnicity. “It simply kills. This is the time when we all must know – right from kindergarten going school children to us right up to adults and grandparents,” she said.

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