Opinion: Why I Find Government not Solely Guilty of the Pearl of Africa’s steadily ailing Economy?

Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia (R) talking to President Museveni during their hey days

Of recent, institutions have been put under the spotlight on various accounts. Last year, we witnessed the downfall of one of Uganda’s most proclaimed commercial banks. The scandal that saw Dr. Sudhir dropping from the billionaires’ list surfaced and exposed many things that Ugandans should be worried about.

Crane bank, as exposed in the news today, toyed with the economy at the hands of its Vice chairman, Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia. The hardened tycoon allegedly siphoned close to Shs400b through the books accounts in his bank. Supposedly, he managed the supply of money in the economy in violation of various banking regulations. He made the banking system very fragile and with his collapse went the stability of our economy.

Having institutions such as these that look down on coordination are some of the reasons why the African Pearl is under developed. Having one person dictate the supply of billions of shillings in the economy breaks the constancy of the country in various sectors. It is a classic example of the income gap. The rich in the country have so much money they literally control our finances!

I do respect the fact that Sudhir Ruparelia made his money through hard work. However, that doesn’t give him the right to manipulate the clients’ deposits. That was simply being arrogant! The Central Bank, in their statement to sue Sudhir for fraud, has unveiled the millions of dollars that his bank was laundering through other institutions.

The other financial scandals are those implicating the government in cases of corruption, by the government: I mean the parliament! Some senior government officials were accused of receiving bribes to cushion the race for Tibet Hima Company for the contract to restore Kilembe Mines. The scandal involved Shs25b shared among eleven government officials.

Recently, parliament has made a joint venture deal with Roko Constructions Uganda and Roko Constructions Rwanda for the renovation of the current parliament chambers, construction of a new chamber and a hall of honour. The Construction Company received approximately Shs180b in the deal.

The deal that was finalized within a record-breaking-time of 72 hours has been faced with controversies. Roko Constructions is said to have submitted its bid on June 26, 2017 at 16:00 hours, the very date and time of submission deadline. 24 hours later, Roko Constructions’ bid was approved. On June 28th, the Clerk to Parliament sought clearance from the Solicitor General who without delay awarded the green light. Three days after the submission of its bid, out of five firms, Roko Constructions got the deal.

The deal was finalized in breach of PPDA’s regulations. The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets requires a post-evaluation assessment on the successful bidder. However, this was ignored by the Parliament’s Contracts and Evaluation Committee. It won’t be very shocking if the project is halted over corruption and fraud cases as it happened with the Kilembe mines deal.

The most popular of these recent scandals besides Sudhir’s reported crime of the century, is the Centenary park controversy. Nalongo Estates, the landlord in the equation, blames KCCA for adamantly denying the enterprise a renewal of its lease on the land. When Sarah Kizito was asked to avail details of how she acquired the first lease, she couldn’t.

COSESA, NWSC, UNRA and KCCA are pursuing demolitions to make way for developments. NWSC requires the space to lay a sewerage drainage system. UNRA needs to continue with the planned flyover. Both bodies require the space in Centenary Park to continue the development of the capital City. However, Nalongo Estates has become a big obstacle towards the development of Uganda. Apparently, their private gain is to be prioritized over National interest!

The President, Chief Executive Officer of Uganda (as New Vison put it), chaired a meeting with the parties involved. He mentioned that Nalongo Estates shouldn’t be completely eliminated from the picture. It was agreed upon that it would be efficient to leave the demolitions to Nalongo Estates. Also, Nalongo estates ought to seek some sort of understanding with KCCA. The meeting resolved that Nalongo Estates should continue to use the land on condition that no permanent structures are constructed.

Nevertheless, it is ridiculous to have private institutions stand in the way of development for their private benefits. It is the government’s job to see that this country is moving forward in all aspects. After all, we often blame it if something doesn’t work the way we want it to. Therefore, it is atrocious to see that the likes of Crane Bank, Nalongo Estates, Tibet Hima Company, Roko Construction and the individuals involved in such scams are the reason why we can’t achieve growth.

It’s even sadder to know that those very parties and the nation shall continue blaming the government for our slow progress. After the government carried out massive privatization, development is left in the hands of individuals.

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Kenneth is currently a Mass Communication student at St Lawrence University. He holds a certificate in History and Literature. He is a social political critique, good creative writer and a poet.