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PTA Bank Loan Scandal: US$200m gone missing, you don’t loose that amount money, you spend it!

The government has announced plans to borrow US$200m from the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (known as the PTA Bank)” (…) “It will, however, do little to ease the near-term pressures. The weak currency is pushing up the cost of external debt (the new PTA Bank loan will add to the burden of US dollar-denominated debt), while high interest rates are driving up yields on domestic securities. The government originally budgeted USh172bn to service external debt in the current 2015/16 fiscal year and USh4.8trn for domestic debt, but the actual outlays will exceed this” (The Economist, 2015).

In today’s exchange rate the loaned planned would be 727,749,571,653.20 Uganda Shillings, or UGX 727bn. So that means that the Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija cannot find the documentation for a huge amount of money. This isn’t a lost pocket or recite, this is like loosing bank. However, we know the context, the loans that came from PTA came within months of the General Election and the Campaigns. Therefore, we can imagine where the money has gone. That is just speculation, but National Medical Stores (NMS) has given some signs, that the PTA Loans was not for them.

In June 2017, the Public Notice of NMS said this:

This funding facility was the PTA Bank loan, which was later approved by Parliament on 26th April 2016. The record on the Hansard clearly indicates ugx. 68billion required to avert an impending crisis at NMS as one of the primary reasons why the loan “should be urgently” approved. If NMS was therefore not meant to get the ugx. 68billion as additional funds, then the Ministry of Finance, Planning

and Economic Development misled Parliament” (…) “NMS provided the contracts by a letter

dated 13th September 2016, and waited for disbursement of the money from PTA Bank. However the said funds have to-date not been provided. This fact was brought to the Ministry of Health and the Permanent Secretary/ Secretary to the Treasury on 27th March 2017. It is important to note that the PTA Bank Loan, was approved by Parliament on the understanding that part of the Proceeds would go to NMS to cover the sh.68billion deficit” (…) “We wish to restate that if this money is not provided, over and above the Budget for FY 2017/18, all Health Centre IIs, IIIs and IVs, including those of UPDF, Uganda Police and Uganda Prisons, shall not receive Medicines in the FY 17/18 except ARVs, Vaccines, ACTs and TB medicines” (NMS, 2017).

Although documents indicate that PTA Bank released the loan basing on documents submitted by the agencies, it was never remitted to them accordance with the agreed terms of the funding. Last week while requesting for a supplementary budget for NMS, Finance State Minister David Bahati was put to task to explain why NMS lacks funds to procure medicines yet the funders released the money in November last year. MP Cecilia Ogwal (Dokolo) wondered why NMS was going through a financial crisis when Parliament approved a loan request of $200m. During the meeting yesterday, members put Bank of Uganda officials led by the Governor Tumusiime Mutebile to task to explain whether the loan was released from the funders to the respective recipients. Mutebile told the committee that between October20th 2016 and May 23, 2017; BOU received $97.9m from PTA bank and transferred all the money to the Ministry of Finance Consolidated Account as instructed by the Ministry of Finance. “How it was used, is the ministry of finance to explain,” he said” (Karugaba, 2017).

So just part of the loans that trusted to NMS never came and never was delivered. The amount of funds needed the crisis in the NMS was not given. Therefore, the lack of oversight of the funds and the loans was evident even last year. Still, PTA Loan of 2016 has not been honored. The BoU will explain what happen after the money was released. So, it means that the documentation of receiving it is there, but what happen after is now gone. The NMS are clear, the BoU, but not the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED).

Just to put the loan in more perspective, even the World Bank described there in January 2017:

Uncertainties related to both local and external events, including the freezing of new loans by the World Bank and the impact of the results of the Brexit referendum and the US presidential election being the most significant causes of this uncertainty. This is notwithstanding the fact that the Government has contracted balance of payments support credit from PTA Bank to provide the BoU with sufficient resources to prevent spikes in the foreign exchange market when the need arises” (World Bank, P: 11, 2017).

However something that is striking is the Letter of intent written by BoU Governor Tumusiime Mutebile and Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development Kasaija. Who both prepared a statement, to build trust in the economy and the loans made by the government.

Who wrote this this to IMF on 18th May 2016:

Government requested a line of credit of USD 200 million from the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (PTA Bank). The three year revolving facility has terms that are deemed more beneficial than those prevailing in the domestic markets at the current juncture and near future, so we plan to use these resources in FY2016/17 and FY 2017/18 to finance our deficits. Therefore, these resources will replace existing, more costly domestic financing, rather than expanding the available envelope. We will not use the loan in FY2015/16” (Kasaija & Tumusiime Mutebile, P: 6-7, 2016).

While this story started after Public Accounts Committee in the Daily Monitor this:

Two of the most prominent Banyakigezi – Bank of Uganda Governor Tumusiime Mutebile, secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi and other top officials in the Finance hierarchy are set to answer questions over how Shs340 billion of Shs720b ($200m) loan meant for medicines and rural electrification was used. They are going to be quizzed by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) with the vice chairman Gerald Karuhanga saying that Muhakanizi, Mutebile, Auditor General John Muwanga and Mr. Lawrence Semakula, the acting Accountant General have been summoned to appear before MPs on Wednesdays to “explain the whereabouts of the money because no agency has received anything.” Mr. Muhakanizi called the probe ‘misdirected’ because ‘everything was done properly and I will prove that with documents.’ He said the money was pooled into the consolidated Fund and spent on approved expenditures” (Daily Monitor, 05.07.2017).

On the 13th June 2017, Treasury Secretary Keith Muhakanizi tried to explain where the money went:

As explained above, all the funds disbursed from the PTA Bank Loan have been fully accounted for. ii No funds has been lost as the Monitor Newspaper has alleged. iii I thank the PTA Bank for quickly providing the funds to the Uganda government when needed. iv It is, therefore, professionally unacceptable for Monitor Newspaper which has represented at the meeting of PAC in Parliament on Wednesday 7th June 2017, to have published an incorrect story in its editorial of 11th June 2017” (New Vision, 2017).

However, the story is not ended in last year. The PTA Loan continue to haunt the MoFPED and the BoU. They both have answers to give. Now a few months later. The answer from MoFPED are differently. Because the Treasury suddenly promised documents in June 2017. However, we are in February 2018 and still not there. Even his own defense that was a notice in the New Vision. Now a half year later, we see the same story and the same issue in the Parliament. That the same amount of monies are not accounted for. The same actors are trying to defend it. The whole affair smells not like Teen-Spirit, but more of State House affair. Since, they are trying to defend the misuse of funds and loans in the timeline of Campaigning. That is what it seems. Since suddenly during campaigns and such the needs for funds is there. Paying off political parties and loyal commissioners. There are so many things to buy and needs. So much material, buses, t-shirts and bribes. You have to print massive amounts of money. In a way where the State House also always needs bigger Supplementary Budgets after the General Election of 2016.

Here is the movement today:

Mr Kasaija yesterday failed to present a personal statement detailing what went wrong with the loan but maintained that no money was “stolen” as he fought to save his job.“I request that we should give an opportunity to a government authority to find out where this money went. But I want to give assurances to this House that no money was diverted or stolen,” Mr Kasaija said. With the loan approved only after the Finance ministry changed its labelling, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga last evening ruled that she will today make a decision regarding the fate of the report, with the duos fate set to be decided today. “I may not talk much but I had engagements with Ministry of Finance over that money. I had engagements to remind the ministry that that money was partially borrowed for NMS. I had meetings in my office over that money,” Ms Kadaga ruled. The loan put the Executive and Parliament at loggerheads with the Speaker at some point ordering the Rules Committee to investigate Mr Kasaija over contempt of Parliament as the fallout escalated” (Arinaitwe, 2018).

So still to this day there is no proof of where it went. Even if the trail leads to two familiar faces, the MoFPED Kasaija and Treasury Muhakanizi, who both trying to save faces. This all seems like misused funds from the Consolidated Funds for Campaigning. Since it was not used for the Rural Electrification Funds or the NMS. Who was both in dire needs, but not important enough. The NMS has lacked it anyways, and not gotten the needed medicine.

Therefore, the two financial heavy-weights has to either forge the paper-trial, since the NMS and the other agencies hasn’t received the funds. They have been spent elsewhere. Suddenly missing and that Muhakanizi uses so long time, that from June 2017 to February 2018 is unbelievable. If you use that long time proving parliament where the funds went. You know there are some shady misuse of it. It has gone to all sorts of activity, to tear-gas, paying police officers to keep Besigye under house arrest and whatnot. Because it didn’t go the place where the MoFPED and BoU promised.

This the GAVI Funds and CHOGM scandal all over again. This isn’t new, it is just PTA Bank loan gone missing. You miss a shilling, you miss a book or even some keys. But you do not loose this amount of money. They have gone to a growing patronage and securing the President’s Private Plane or something. Peace.

Reference:

Arinaitwe, Solomon – ‘MPs plot to censure Kasaija over Shs700b’ (07.02.2018) link: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/MPs-plot-censure-Kasaija-over-Shs700b-/688334-4294524-r1k3ls/index.html

The Economist – Intelligence Unit – ‘ Loan secured from regional bank’ (11.12.2015) link: http://country.eiu.com/article.aspx?articleid=63762990&Country=Uganda&topic=Economy&subtopic=Forecast&subsubtopic=Fiscal+policy+outlook&u=1&pid=923837876&oid=923837876&uid=1

Karubaga, Mary – ‘Finance makes U-turn on sh150b NMS loan’ (08.07.2017) link: https://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1455202/finance-makes-sh150b-nms-loan

Kasaija, Matia & Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile – ‘Uganda: Letter of Intent, Memorandum of Economic Financial Policies, and Technical Memorandum of Understanding’ (18.05.2016) link:

NMS – ‘CLARIFICATION ON FUNDS RELEASED TO NATIONAL MEDICAL STORES (NMS) FOR PROCUREMENT, STORAGE AND DISTRIBUTION OF ESSENTIAL MEDICINES AND HEALTH SUPPLIES (EMHS)’ (16.07.2017) link: https://www.nms.go.ug/jdownloads/Press/NMS%20Full%20pg%202017.pdf

New Vision – ‘Clarification on Allegations that US$200 million meant to procure medicines for health centres and implement Rural Electrification Projects Went Missing’ (17.07.2017) link: https://www.newvision.co.ug/digital_assets/fa485f48-5a96-4b7b-be1a-3969e7a45cc3/9-Min-of-finance.pdf

World Bank – ‘Uganda Economic Update 8th Edition, january 2017 – Step by step Let’s solve the finance puzzle to accelerate growth and shared prosperity’ (January 2017) link: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/662191486394023103/pdf/112621-WP-P161699-PUBLIC-UEU-8TH-edition-final-for-web.pdf

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