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M7 ANNOUNCES 500BN PACKAGE TO BAIL OUT COVID19-STRICKEN PRIVATE SCHOOLS’ OWNERS

 By Mulengera Reporters

 Referencing on the example of Equity Bank, originating from Kenya, which has ruthlessly been grabbing COVID19-stricken borrowers’ collateral properties and assets, a team of journalists from Vision Group prudently asked President Museveni what his government intends to do to save such native businesses that continue to be mercilessly strangled by the profit-minded bank bosses. The Vision Group team, led by Editor in Chief Barbra Kaija, were having a one on one interview with Gen Museveni whose address was targeted on Luganda-speaking audiences in Buganda region.

The public interest question was put to Gen Museveni at a time the Kenyan bank top officials continue to be investigated by the CID department of Uganda Police after two Ugandan businessmen (Ronald Ndawula and Arch Peter Kamya) lodged complaints accusing top management of improper and fraudulent conduct. The two businessmen don’t deny being indebted over the loans they took from Equity Bank but protest the circumstances under which their property was confiscated and sold off after what they deem to be inappropriate foreclosure.

In the case of Ndawula, who is also the NRM chairman Luwero district, Equity Bank last month grabbed his Everest School Ltd based in Luwero on grounds that the COVID-constrained school proprietor had defaulted on repaying his loan of Shs800m initially taken out to fund expansion of the school. Ndawula now says the bank didn’t act in good faith and has also since reported to top NRM leaders, including Gen Museveni, demanding an inquiry into the conduct of Equity Bank whose bosses he says irregularly grabbed his school for which NUP Greater Luwero coordinator Denis Sekabira later controversially became the owner.

As new owner, Sekabira was advanced a loan of Shs2.7bn by the same bank, something Ndawula claims potentially boosted NUP’s financial preparedness ahead of 14th January elections. The NUP coordinator, who security continues to investigate over the Kyagulanyi riots during which Luwero Court premises were burnt, ironically used Ndawula’s school as security to access the Shs2.7bn which Ndawula and other NRM cadres claim can potentially boost the anti-Museveni mobilization in Greater Luwero where residents recently lined the high way to heckle Gen Museveni as his convoy drove by.

Ndawula, at whose instigation the CID Director Grace Akullo has since commenced investigations into the saga through area CID boss ASP Hassan Kalengat, claims that even the actual price at which his school was sold (Shs1.3bn) was understated to read Shs900m which potentially deprives the government of Uganda of the appropriate taxes resulting from the same transfer being registered. He also questions the discrepancies in Sekabira’s names between what initially was stated in the sell agreement and what appears on his NIRA-issued ID whose particulars have since been amended and altered to validate the bank transactions preceding his takeover of the school and the subsequent taking out of the Shs2.7bn mortgage.

Ndawula’s aggrievement relates to many other things which gratefully were captured in the earlier story Mulengera News published over the weekend as seen here https://mulengeranews.com/equity-bank-md-faces-arrest-over-luwero-school-owned-by-key-nrm-party-chairman/.

 Just like Ndawula, tycoon Peter Kamya, whose Simbamanyo House and Afrique Suites Hotel in Mutungo were sold off in equally controversial circumstances, has also resorted to courts of law and police faulting Equity Bank of many things including allegedly selling his property without proper valuation report and adequate advertisement among other procedural requirements.

In his televised interaction with Vision Group editors, Gen Museveni spoke generally and admitted being aware of the financial torment and mistreatment many local businessmen, especially private school owners,  have endured at the hands of foreign-owned lenders and banks since the March 2020 lockdown was first imposed by him on the country to break the spread of COVID19. Saying it’s something he intends to remedially look into to find a comprehensive solution, in close collaboration with BoU, Gen Museveni confessed many of these local businessmen need urgent relief which his government will be prioritizing once reelected.

Saying the Uganda, he leads, isn’t a poor country, Gen Museveni said there will be more money after elections “because this electoral process by the EC has cost us over Shs1trn which fortunately is a one off exercise doable only once in 5 years.” Museveni explained that in the next five years, the country can annually have that Shs1trn saved unlike this FY when it has had to be expended by the EC to enable Ugandans determine their leaders. He said that he only needs a half of that money (Shs500bn) in the next FY to be able to adequately extend a hand leading to the rescue of the struggling private businesses, especially private schools, which he stressed wouldn’t be in any distress if it wasn’t for the COVID19 lockdown.

He wondered why financial institutions can’t reflect on the COVID19-related constraints and treat private businesses, especially private school owners, more leniently because even a child knows the financial trauma they have gone through since closure of their academic institutions in March 2020. Gen Museveni added that confiscating people’s schools and auctioning them in such very insensitive circumstances is simply unsustainable because you can’t have winners in a failing economy. He implied that for the commercial banks to survive, businesses, especially institutional borrowers like schools, should thrive too otherwise you can’t have a vibrant banking system without an equally vibrant private sector which in Uganda’s case is significantly manifested through private investments in provision of education services by individual business people. In a related development, NRM cadre Ronald Ndawula says he has instructed his lawyers to administratively challenge Equity Bank’s actions and omissions by lodging a formal complaint with the regulator Bank of Uganda. He claims that some of the things the Kenyan bank has done in order to financially obliterate him are so fatal the same can even result into license revocation by the regulator.  (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at mulengera2040@gmail.com).

 

 

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