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Archive for the tag “David Bhati”

Uganda: Kasaija plans to borrow $190m extra to cover a budget shortfall within two years!

Someone please call 911, yeah yeah (pick up the phone yo)

Tell them I just got shot down, tell them I just got shot down

And it’s piercin’ through my soul (I’m losin blood yo)

Feel my body gettin’ cold, oh, so cold

Someone please call 911 (can you do that for me)” – Wyclef Jean ft Mary J. Blige – ‘911’ , April 2000

In an election year in the Republic, the economy usually runs loose. The State House lacks suddenly funds, the President needs more and so fourth. That is standard procedure. However, on the 19th March 2020 Matia Kasaija has now announced that the plans to borrow USD 190 million to cover a short-fall of funds, because of the COVID-19 or Coronavirus.

This is deemed fit because of the pandemic and the financial disruption it has. Not that the Republic is alone in this. Other big states and plenty in the Western hemisphere is putting up packages of economic stimulus to salvage the economy because of it. So, the sentiment is understandable. However, the Ugandan republic is already heavily indebted and every single development project of late is covered by debts and debt relief. Not like its sustainable to take up nearly USD 200 million to suddenly boost a dying economy.

Here’s the quotes:

The low activity in industry and services sectors will result into loss of jobs further leading to a decline in economic growth and an increase in the level of poverty. The number of people that could be pushed into poverty is estimated at approximately 780, 000” (STATEMENT ON THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF COVID.19 ON UGANDA,, 19.03.2020).

To deal with the financing gap in the Government budgets for FY 2019/20 and FY 2020/21, my Ministry will seek for a budget support loan on concessional terms worth US$ 100 million for FY2019/20 and US$ 90 million for FY202021 from the World Bank” (STATEMENT ON THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF COVID.19 ON UGANDA,, 19.03.2020).

It’s seems like they have the perfect cover for rising debt. They need to do something, because lots of industries are shut-down or silenced by the lack of tourism and foreign exchange. Also, the diaspora is hit and can therefore, not remit enough funds to boost the economy either.

The MoFPED really want to stain the economy more. To quote the IMF:

““Rising debt puts more strain on the budget as more resources need to be allocated for interest payments. One shilling paid for debt service is one shilling less going to a school or a health clinic. The current ratio of interest payments to revenue is comparable to what countries with high risk or in debt distress typically face” (IMF – ‘Uganda’s Economic Outlook in Six Charts’ 09.05.2019).

By borrowing close to USD 200 million is really pushing the envelope. As the interests needs to be served, the grace period might be short, as the state of finances across the board is souring. Therefore, the state will not get to favourable terms with this. The World Bank also has all other states begging for funds and possible grants to push the set-back of the pandemic. Not like Uganda is the only one crying out loud and applying for money.

This money will not be free money, but tainted money. This sort of funds is needed, because the state wasn’t planned nor had the capacity to have a rainy-day fund. The Petroleum Fund has already been raided and therefore, couldn’t come in handy now. This is the mismanagement, your already in a negative spiral with more and more loans. This is just adding two more and they are big. That will cost in the long run. It might salvage today and tomorrow. However, it will scar the next generation. Unless, someone is forgiving like these entities was in the early 1990s. Before the state again took up huge loans to cover deficits.

This is just the way it is now. Not a good look. Understandable in the growing crisis. However, that shouldn’t undercut the possible pain it will bring in the future. Save the day, but cause more harm tomorrow. Peace.

Mobile Money Tax shortfall: People change behaviour after levying an unfair tax

Levy on mobile money contributed a deficit of UGX 30.48 billion which can be explained by the fact that high value clients withdraw their funds from agency banking e.g MTN has had a drop of 36 percent in MM transaction values since the introduction of the levy on mobile money” (Uganda Revenue Authority, 06.02.2020).

There is also reported that it has been a 36% drop in Mobile Money Transactions since the enaction of the Exercise Duty in 2018. That means, the added tax on the MM transactions are backfiring. The State isn’t adding revenue, but ensuring that people are finding other ways of moving their money.

This is not shocking, that people change behaviour, when the state makes it more expensive. As the people used these services to send each other money by convenience. Now, one third of the transactions are gone. Meaning, the ones that can change their ways has done that.

The losers are not only the Telecoms, but also the state. As the shortfall of taxes got to be covered elsewhere. As the state had put this into the budgets to cover other state works. This means the targets for domestic revenue wasn’t considering the implications of doing it. As, there wouldn’t be an natural reaction to the consequences to the new taxes.

Instead of increasing the tax base, they are making it smaller and not able to find measures that makes sense. The state has clearly done this without due diligence, neither also configured the stats and the possible behaviour of the public. As their ways gotten more taxed and not considering that they would stop, if they found it to expensive or unreasonable.

The MM tax and the OTT taxes was measures made to tax the digital market-space in the Republic. However, they have both been flawed and also not met their targets, because the public found other ways of doing things.

The ironies about the MM saga is that before the tax, the business of MM was growing. A natural growth and having more transactions every year. Now, that they levied the tax its has a big fall. That is a result of the MM Tax and the public is not having it. Peace.

A snap-shot into the Budget Framework Paper for 2020/21

It is budget season, this is out-takes from the Budget Framework Paper for the Financial Year of 2020/21. The Financial Year, which the General Election will be held during the early start of 2021. Therefore, the budget will be hit by this.

The Budget is estimated to be a total of 39 trillion Uganda Shillings. External loans to cover the budget is projected to be about 7 trillion shillings.

While the debt repayment is growing too. That is why in this budget year, the estimated interests payment is 1.2 trillion shillings.

In special usage, the Office of the President plans to spend 101,9 billion shillings under Public Administration. We got to address the needed Shs. 1,8 billion spent on medals, so that the President will not be embarrassed.

While the State House has the expenditure of 407 billion. From that one, I have a few snap-shots of the expenditure. First, the Procurement and maintenance of transport and specialized equipment including the Presidential Jet and Helicopter at Shs. 31.172bn. Which was put under the vote of the Public Administration. Shs. 34 billions on the ageing fleet of Cars at the State House. Also, Shs. 10 billion to refurbish the State House.

The Office of the Prime Minister set to Shs. 498,531bn.

In election costs, the total budgeted expenditure. The election will cost 1 trillion, 800 billion in security and another 200 billion shillings on the Elections Road Map. The Electoral Commission is budgeted to spend about 318 billion shillings on the management of the elections.

What the NAADs plans to do:

– 130 tractors and matching implements

– 1,000,000 hand hoes

Let see if the NAADs will keep their old promise, which was a big deal before the previous election. Even if you cannot find a budget post where the hoes are fitted in. Surely, they are hidden somewhere, but not somewhere obvious to the naked eye.

These was the most fitting things I found so far. Surely, there are plenty more juicy things. There wasn’t any water bills or explaining to do. The Budget Framework Paper is very straight forward. However, usually something daft get passed through. We really will see more.

But these are few tit-bits of it all. Peace.

Opinion: OTT Tax on Data Bundles is like a dual-VAT

“URA Commissioner General Doris Akol told the Finance Committee of Parliament chaired by Henry Musasizi that the controversial OTT Tax will be charged directly on data instead of mobile money to curb the evasion” (NBS Television, 14.01.2020).

I wonder if Doris Akol has thought this through or is winging it? As she see the losses and lack of results, revenue or tax base with the 200 shillings of doom. The whole OTT Tax is to expensive for the public daily. Now, she wants to move it and indirectly tax it instead.

Surely, they will get revenue, but this will make it more expensive to buy data-bundles for the customers and make the packages more viable. VPN and similar networks to circumvent the usage and payments of the daily OTT Tax have beaten the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). That is why URA does this now.

It is a sign of defiance and civil disobedience. They are trying to patch the hurt. But will this succeed? Will more try to only load data through Wi-Fi networks and wireless networks in general. Not load so much data on the go. Because, people are smart and tries to undercut extra taxes. Especially, when on the data is already paid VAT and the Mobile Company pay their taxes on the profits too.

Therefore, URA and Akol seems fishing. They will raise revenue, but also make the data bundles more expensive and with that stop plenty of people from buying bigger data bundles for surfing online on your smart-phone.

That is just the mere reality. It is a sign, yet again that the OTT is a failed project, who didn’t hit the targets and wasn’t measured right. If it was, the aim and the bargain wouldn’t be like this. That is not happening.

This method is a clever way of adding the costs of data, while charging for service not necessarily used. The OTT Services, which is the reason for why these are charged. Because, the data could be used for other things and therefore, is violating its attempt to make it costly for certain usage on online.

This is again, pushing one story, pushing one tax and trying to tax the public by any means. When the hook doesn’t work, they use the crook. Instead of doing directly, they want to do it indirectly and initially in some way adding a separate VAT on data-bundles masked as OTT Tax. That is really it.

We all know this, URA verify it today. That the only things certain in life is death and taxes. Thanks Akol for reminding us. Peace.

OTT Tax: Totally failed its supposed revenue targets in 2018!

Today, the Uganda Communication Commission released their annual sector performance report of July 2019. It was really a bit funny look, as the state, the President and all of his handlers said the Over-The-Top Services would create a tax-base and revenue, which would benefit the state. That is why Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) had set up targets to streamline these new taxes.

I will show more of the fun and explain, as the UCC report really shows how malfunction and lack of due diligence hurt. But first a previous calculation, which was stated to the media. To show how much lack of tax-base the OTT had in 2018, as it was implemented in July and keeps pushing to this date.

Look:

Daily Monitor Reports: “Government collected Shs20.5b from social media in the last quarter ended September, according to data obtained from Uganda Revenue Authority. The tax, which was implemented in July, was however, less than the Shs24.9b target that URA had hoped to collect in the period. URA has a monthly target of Shs8.3b. The tax was introduced in the Excise Duty amendments of financial year 2018/19 requiring all social media users to pay Shs200 per day, before accessing certain platforms such as Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter, among others. Government intends to collect about Shs100b before the end of the 2018/19 financial year” (Christine Kasemiire – ‘OTT raises Shs20b in first quarter, URA fails on targets’ 07.11.2018).

Let’s first do the math, accordingly, as the URA monthly target is 8,3bn shillings in revenue, every single month. A quarter of a Financial Year is 4 months. In today’s UCC report, it shows the numbers for the Q3 and Q4 of 2018. Which means, that states revenue from July-September and October-December in the previous years. By these standards its 8,3bn X3 to get the supposed of any given Q. That is 24,9bn shillings is estimated to earn per quarter.

However, the UCC report states that in the Q3, the revenue was 12,696,558,400 or 12,6bn shillings which is only about half of the anticipated revenue. The final quarter or Q4 isn’t much better:12,952,833,800 or 12,9bn shillings. Of the estimated earnings, the state is nearly able to gain about half of its target. The market and the consumers are not contributing or using the phones as much as they thought. What is striking if you combine the two quarters of revenue is that the state earned approximately 25,5bn shillings, which is sadly just above one quarter estimate of the URA in supposed revenue on this tax. The estimated earnings of the period would be about 49,8bn and this shows the state managed a deficit of about 24,3bn shillings. That is about on quarters earning not happening at all. Thats a giant shortfall of cash and the URA/UCC needs to explain the Ministry of Finance this one, because this a major loss of promised funding for the state.  

This shows how failed this tax is and what a waste of enforcement and making the tax in its first place. This isn’t fun and games, but a way of misusing power to tax people, just because you find something obnoxious. That is how it seems, since the President want to stop the gossip online and such. Stop spreading of information and ensure that poorest cannot afford to get online and use the OTT services. Because, that what this tax does. Peace.

Deficit Financing: The art of fresh loans for the FY2019/20!

Deficit financing, however, may also result from government inefficiency, reflecting widespread tax evasion or wasteful spending rather than the operation of a planned countercyclical policy. Where capital markets are undeveloped, deficit financing may place the government in debt to foreign creditors. In addition, in many less-developed countries, budget surpluses may be desirable in themselves as a way of encouraging private saving” (Encyclopaedia Britannica – ‘Deficit financing’ (25.08.2015).

Just as it is soon a new Financial Year and also another budget. This time its for the FY 2019/20, the last one before campaigning. Therefore, the added strain on the economy will come, as the state funds are used for campaigns for the ruling regime. This is a steady act of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) and President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. We can expect more of it. That is the reason why the lack of fiscal responsibility is evident. As the state is within a year going from spending 32 trillion shilling into 40 trillion shillings. This without substantial rate or even more revenue to cover the added expenses. That means the state is more addicted to loans and grants.

Surely, the people should be aware, as the state has already gotten more loans and has to pay more in interests than before. With the new infrastructure loans and other development projects will hit the costs in future budgets. Even with Petro-Dollar, the state still has a lot of old debt to get revenue to cover. Especially, in the short-term window, as the grace periods of old loans will hit the budgets too. It seems like the state is only considering the debt-rate, but not the actual cost of the loans in itself.

That is why I will take one quote from the IMF, before showing what reports there was from Parliament, As they have voted for a new budget, which has escalating spending further without the revenue. That should be a worry. Take a look!

IMF May 2019:

Rising debt puts more strain on the budget as more resources need to be allocated for interest payments. One shilling paid for debt service is one shilling less going to a school or a health clinic. The current ratio of interest payments to revenue is comparable to what countries with high risk or in debt distress typically face” (IMF – ‘Uganda’s Economic Outlook in Six Charts’ 09.05.2019).

Rising debt:

The Committee noted that , the total public debt stock increased by 12.5 percent to USD 11.52 billion as at end December 2018 from USD 10.24 billion as at end December, 2Ol7 out of which domestic and external debt accounted for 33.5 percent (USD 3.86 billion) and 66.5 percent (USD 7.66 billion) respectively. The external debt stock increased by USD 0.78 billion to USD 7.66 billion by end December 2018 from USD 6.88 billion at end December 2017. The increase was mainly from China (25 percent) and World Bank (40 percent)” (REPORT OF THE BUDGET COMMITTEE ON THE ANNUAL BUDGET ESTIMATES FOR FY 2O19/20, P: 7, 2019).

Minority report on growing debt:

Worrying to note is the fact that huge portion of the budget resource is to be financed through borrowing. Out of the projected by domestic revenue of UGX 20.59 trillion (51%) while the budget of UGX 40.48 trillion, 9.44 trillion (48%) will be sourced from both domestic or external borrowing” (…) “It should be noted with concern that projected are almost debt expenditures in FY2019/20 equal to tax revenue (URA tax collection) of UGX 20.59 trillion” (A MINORITY REPORT ON ANNUAL BUDGET ESTIMATES TY 2019/20, P: 4-5, 2019).

It should be worrying how easily this budget was passed. How between last FY 2018/19 to FY 2019/20 the state could add 8 trillion shillings on the budgets. This without counting or even having the added revenue needed. This meaning the state has a giant deficit, which is about half of the budget. Where they have to get funding from outside sources, either by loans or grants. Lots will be loaned for and has to be paid for later with interests.

Certainly, this is a way of ensuring that for every shilling paid in loans, the state could have delivered state services to the public. That is even something the IMF was pointing out. This should be a worry for Ugandans, as the state is misusing the funds, loaning and borrowing on their future, without certainty of being able to repay these loans. That is what is shocking as the oil revenue has been postponed again and the lack of progression on the matter. This means the state is not hitting its targets, while taking up more loans on future revenue. Anyone should be worried about this, because who knows tomorrow and what if the economy totally tanks before the industry takes off. They are clearly living large on Deficits Financing and hoping the golden goose soon lays eggs. Since, they are continuing to fund their operations and the state with loans.

Than, the oil will be sold wholesale, as the state cannot manage to gain revenue and has to trade off everything. The risks it is taking is reckless. The spending is bonkers. That the state is initially a year before an Election Year is creating this huge deficit. Isn’t a sign of strength, but of weakness. As well, as having a blind faith, hoping for a narrow escape in the realm of Deficit financing. Peace.

Uganda: Press Statement – Justification of procurement of OTT services for Members of Parliament (16.05.2019)

MTN Uganda Not Subjected to an ISO Raid on Friday 15 February 2019 (16.0.2019)

MTN Uganda Scandal: Why are all of these people deported?

There are speculations going on there as the biggest Telecom Company MTN Uganda Limited have been under fire since the midst of January 2019. This has been shown over the recent month, as the leadership and executives have been deported. By my count since mid of January, there been four people.

The three firsts was addressed like this by MTN Group:

MTN Uganda has not been officially notified of the grounds for these arrests and deportations and is trying to establish the precise reasons for the deportations. We are understandably concerned about these developments and the wellbeing of all our employees. MTN Uganda is fully committed to respecting and operating within the laws of the country. Notes to the editor: On Saturday, 19 January 2019, the MTN Uganda Chief Marketing Officer, Olivier Prentout, was arrested by police at Entebbe airport upon arrival from a business trip abroad. On the morning of Monday 21 January 2019, the MTN Uganda Head of Sales and Distribution, Annie Bilenge Tabura, was arrested by unidentified security personnel upon arrival at the MTN headquarter offices, in Kololo, Kampala. Subsequently, both Mr Prentout and Mrs Bilenge have been deported from Uganda to their home countries, France and Rwanda respectively. On the 22 January 2019, Elza Muzzolini, Head of Mobile Financial Services was also deported from Uganda. – Issued by MTN Group Regulatory and Corporate Affairs” (MTN Group, 23.01.2019).

Therefore, three people has already been deported, this being Prentout, Tabura and Muzzolini. They have all been banished from the Republic. Today, it has escalated again, as CEO Wim Vanhelleputte, whose also has been interrogated and been questioned by ISO/CMI during January 2019. Was today on the 14th February 2019 deported to Belgium by the authorities.

Clearly, the state is retaliating, as they are fearing for their safety and the data shedding the company is doing. As there been speculation that the company has had disgruntled staff leaking intelligence to Rwandan Intelligence Service. This has been reported by various of online news-outlets. Therefore, some thinks it is connected to this, that the President and the regime is afraid of this. That is why these people are all deported from the Republic.

It is clear, that there something going on behind the scenes. As the Security Organizations summons, interrogate and deport MTN executives from the Republic. This is happening, as the state are trying to silence the MTN or stop leaked intelligence to Rwanda. We don’t know if that is true or what. But what we do now, is that the Ugandan government and authorities are acting swiftly and retaliates against the high-ranking officials within the Telecom. Peace.

The 200 Shillings of Doom: Tumwebaze mixed messages concerning the Social Media Tax!

We knew that the statements of 2018, as the loyal ICT Minister Frank Tumwebaze hadn’t done his due diligence, as the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoPED) issued a Social Media Tax last year after President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni wrote a letter to the Ministry of Finance asking for the opportunity to tax this.

That has no been done over the last few months, but as the realization of the effects are coming. The forewarning of CSBAG and others wasn’t listen to. I wrote that it lacked due diligence of the tax in June 2018 and today. As I open Daily Monitor and seeing that Frankie Boy has changed his ways. He has opened his eyes and seeing what some of us saw all along. As the cost of content, the cost of using social media and that this has ensured that it is less viable. Since, its the elites who can use it, but the lower level civil servants cannot afford to be online. That was natural, that the 200 shillings per day would be taken directly of the plate and also evaporate funds for investment within the Republic. It is a negative tax, and therefore, naturally have reverse effect, than what the state promised when they levied it.

Tumwebaze statement in July 2018:

When Ministry of Finance is borrowing, we, the Parliament and civil society are grilling them for borrowing. But when we say this is a sector that has grown in the economy so let’s get a bit of it, let’s get Shs. 6,000 from every holder of a smartphone consuming OTTs, what production capacity will it stifle?” (…) “Is USD 1,4 too much for a citizen to contribute to tax yet you have money to buy a smartphone, minimumly at Shs. 300,000 that is data enabled, and you load bundles of over shs. 30,000? Logically it doesn’t make sense” (Frank Tumwebaze, 17.07.2018).

Tumwebaze statemetn in January 2019:

The committee chaired by Annet Nyakecho said Over The Top tax seems to negatively affect the consumption of ICT services and products. In response, ICT Minister, Mr Frank Tumwebaze admitted that the tax is has had adverse effects on the sector. He said they were “hoodwinked” by their counterparts in the Finance Ministry that the introduction of the tax on the basis that it would widen the country’s revenue base” (Ssebuliba, 2019).

ICT Minister Tumwebaze was so positive and thinking this was the future. This was how to widen the tax-base, but instead. It has as expected made the usage of Social Media expensive. Which means also there is lack of funds for the ones operating within the Social Media and making Online Businesses. This is both happening because of the hard hitting taxes on Social Media, but also the Mobile Money Tax. Both taxes has both the Mobile Money Industry and the ICT development, as they are both having less activity and less usage. Which is natural, when the costs are going up.

The ICT Minister should have known this before speaking so warm about it. Any tax are taking money out of the system. The 200 shillings of doom is clear. The state could have listen to the advice, but didn’t open the ears to it.

In June 30 2018, Daily Monitor reported this: “Civil society organisations have accused the government of trying to stifle debate online with this tax, while others like the Civil society Budget Advocacy group CSBAG, say the tax will have a negative impact on a business.” (Hinamundi, 2018).

So, if the ICT Minister Tumwebaze could have known and stopped this. They could have done the right thing and not continued this path. Instead they have hurt the industry, because they are all blindly following the orders of the President. That is what the state did and they levied the 200 shillings of doom, as it was anticipated by anyone else. Than, the authorities itself. Peace.

Reference:

Samuel Ssebuliba – ‘Parliament orders assessment on impact of social media tax’ 18.01.2019, link: https://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Parliament-orders-assessment-impact-social-media-tax/688334-4940312-rph8g3z/index.html

Collins Hinamundi – ‘How government will collect the new social media tax’ 30.07.2018, link: https://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/How-government-will-collect-new-social-media-tax/688334-4639596-juy8n3z/index.html

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