A look into the Roko Minority report

Details on the ROKO bailout have emerged indicating that the planned purchase of shares by the government will also mean the government injecting operation capital as well as inheriting UGX 130 billion liability from the construction company. Experts advise government to audit ROKO Construction Ltd or risk going down with it” (NBS Television, 08.07.2022).

Decision on the proposal to buy preference shares in Roko is stayed. The Speaker says the minister will need to take into consideration the concerns of MPs and come back to the House with a position before a vote is put” (Parliament of Uganda, 20.07.2022).

The fall guy and the needed construction company Roko Construction Limited is having trouble financially and the Government of Uganda is intending to bail-out the company. That’s why things are questioned, because it is a private company and suddenly the government comes to its aide. This is happening, because we know the company is used as a contractor for prestigious development projects.

The Roko company is getting a helping hand for one reason, it serves a purpose and a need of the state. Not because no one can else do the same, but it’s a useful entity for the government. Just like other companies who are in fields are getting similar treatment. That’s why it’s just an example of how the system is rigged.

This is why I will take vital quotes from the Minority Report on the company from the Parliament. Since the Opposition has no stakes in the company or how its run. They are not earning funds or kickbacks from it. The deals between the state, company and developers are done outside their knowledge. That’s why Roko shows up in all sorts of scandals. Not only this bail-out, but elsewhere too.

First: “The Executive Director of UDC informed the Committee that it did not undertake the required due diligence. This was attributed to failure to access funds amounting to UGX 800 million required to contract competent professional accounting firms to undertake the due diligence. It is therefore illogical for Government to fail to avail UGX 800 million for the due diligence exercise but instead proceed to seek approve from Parliament for UGX 207.13 billion” (Minority Report, 20.07.2022).

Second: “The President Directive referred to in the extract reaffirms the need to contract a profession competent firm to undertake due diligence of the Company. It should be noted that the Cabinet Extract was been drawn from a Minute of a Cabinet meeting held on 4th July 2022. Please note that this directive was given almost a month after the proposal was tabled in Parliament i.e. 6th June 2022” (Minority Report, 20.07.2022).

Third: “During the Committee meeting, the Ministry represented Roko Construction Ltd as a domestic investor. However, it was established that while the Company is registered in Uganda, based on its ordinary shareholders it is of foreign owned company. The 15,000 ordinary shareholders are owned by Swiss nationals who include. Jean Mann Francey Koehler (12,000), Friedhhelm Erwin Jost” (1,500) and Kurt Wolier Blaeter (l,500)” (Minority Report, 20.07.2022).

This Minority Report just proves how the state operates. The Roko Construction Ltd. is vouched for and one of them. That’s why it’s so easy to bail it out. There is a connection that is more important than reasons or even proper protocol. This is why the company is in favour and getting the good graces. It serves a purpose and therefore needs saving. Not because it is correct or done with the justified ways. No, the President and the cronies needs companies like this to work and entertain their prestige projects. In such a manner, that they all can profit and life moves on. That’s what the state hopes happens. Just like the scandals surrounding other companies like Dott Services etc.

One day it is a scandal, another day it’s totally forgotten. That’s what the state is hoping for and I think they will succeed. There is enough of other tragedies in the Republic. Which certainly make everyone forget about these billions of shillings spent on a construction company. Peace.

Opinion: ROKO is a sign of the times..

Details on the ROKO bailout have emerged indicating that the planned purchase of shares by the government will also mean the government injecting operation capital as well as inheriting UGX 130 billion liability from the construction company. Experts advise government to audit ROKO Construction Ltd or risk going down with it” (NBS Television, 08.07.2022).

You know the times are hard when the construction company and engineering company is failing. A company which is dealing with government projects. This company which has been running for generations and has a long history in the Republic. However, it doesn’t mean it’s all shiny.

That’s why the company has ended up to write to the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in 2020 asking for financial assistance. As even back then the creditors was suing to get money returned. There was even written a research report back in May 2018, which stipulated the needs for budget control and more oversight over the financials of the company. That could all be reasons for it’s downfall.

ROKO is part of the system and juiced up by deals, which involves high ranking officials. Just like the Dott Services is too. That’s why the company is prominent and is alive. The company is getting favoured and named in deals like the construction of Lubowa Hospital and other profiled construction sites. Therefore, the connections and the high ranking officials are endorsing this one.

That’s maybe why it’s kept alive. Even if the financials are horrific and the results of the company is bananas. There is maybe not much liquidity or assets to begin with. It could just be a mirage and a failing enterprise with a long history. That has happened before and now the deals comes back to haunt it.

What is striking is that the company is filled with scandals not only the hospital, but the likes of the upgrade of the Parliament. Than you have other construction sites that takes years to finish and never get done. If not you have built city markets, which isn’t fitting the traders or the costumers of the traders. There is also terminations of contracts because of shoddy and late work too. So, it is not the ROKO has a clean track-record or anything.

Still, the company is able to win and get huge contracts, which is significant. The sort of wet-dream for any company to get. The sort of constructions that would be sought after and be vital for years to come. However, they are still not able to keep things sustainable. Neither are they able to pay the sub-contractors and others for their supplies. That is why they were sued back in 2020.

Now, the company is struggling and its has a lot of work to do. Like what is really going on with Lubowa and Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium? Is there any movement or was that just some fraudulent paper-work to get some dimes in the coffers?

We know they lost Pearl Marina Estate to another company. In this regard we can wonder if anything is happening with Tourism and Training Institute (UHTTI), which is supposed to be built on Nalufenya road in Jinja.

There is also side stories from 2021 stating that one of the owners of the company is hiding millions of shillings in Switzerland. If that is the case. Then the company is just as corrupt as the State House, which makes sense why they are such good partners to begin with. This whole enterprise is questionable and bailing it out. Only means that their name and practices is needed by the government. Because, they trust each other. Even when the company isn’t delivering or doing what they are obliged to do.

It is just a mess, but a mess that the State House and the NRM is proud off. It is their product and they are vouching for it. That’s why they are bailing it out. Peace.

Opinion: Time to smell the coffee… [Veni, vidi, vici]

The last few days the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) has defended it’s agreements with Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited. This stems from the agreements, addenda’s and whatnot.

This is the same investor that is building the Lubowa Specialized Hospital. When seeing the results of that and lack of progress. The sort of deals and agreements with UVCC is only beneficial for the owners and the ones arranging it in the state.

The coffee-farmers had no say in this and the monopoly of trading beans will possibly destroy the exports of coffee. Especially, when the company has been working on the factory since the investor with a delegation held a meeting at the State House in January 2014. This means it has gone 8 years and little to nothing has been moving. Just like there Hospital that been in the works since 2015. It is not like any of these has seen the lights of day and it isn’t getting any better.

The UVCC is getting tax-holidays and monopoly on coffee beans. Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) should have a say in this and you can wonder why the Minister of Agriculture doesn’t want to have any play in it. That just shows the shoddiness, since one of their own and loyal cadres in Frank Tumwebaze is downplaying his role.

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija and Permanent Secretary Ramathan Ggoobi is both busy defending and selling the agreement in concern to UVCC. The company is given 10 years with monopoly and a tax-holiday, which is respectfully a terrible agreement. Especially, when there is no proof of the profitability or even if it is able to trade in this market. Secondly, the company has used years on end without any movements. The last proven change of the plot has been a field investigation in March 2020. Therefore, giving them a ten year monopoly two years later. Make you wonder why? What is so special and unique about UVCC? What leverage does this company has on the paper and makes it reasonable for the state to give away everything to it?

It is like the state owns the UVCC and the Italian investor for something. Even if there is no proof of profits or even able to carry it out. The reason why this can be said, because neither projects is anywhere close lights of day. At least the Soroti Fruit Factory actually exists, even if it is producing for the wrong fruit and isn’t profitable. Neither the hospital or the coffee factory is existing.

The Vinci Company is selling dreams… and the state is catching nightmares. The MoFPED is busy selling stories and fairytales. Since, the coffee processing plant is far from being built. There is no movement and proof of such. Neither is the Hospital getting into a stage of being operational. It is all on paper and agreements made by trading ghosts. The government is giving away a lot to a business, which is not even operational or has the proven ability of trading the commodities on the world market.

That’s why this whole deal is a mess. The naive will believe the numbers and the charts that Ggoobi was shelling out today and yesterday. The coffee market worldwide is huge, but how will a paper-tiger compete with the international companies and the ones that has been up and running for generations? Aha… that he will not answer too. Because, the trade and the business is already in motion. The state has already signed off it’s rights to a non-existent coffee factory and a company, which isn’t operational. That’s why the state has to patch the hurt, but the ones in-charge should smell the coffee, because this will get bitter very soon. Peace.

Opinion: Ggoobi is selling a bitter cup of coffee…

The ones that is believing the greatness and the proper means of the Vinci coffee deal signed by the Government of Uganda. They are naive and not seeing what has happened before. This agreement and deals between the investor and the GoU is bad at best. There is no denying in that. This is agreeing with the same investor and company, which was supposed to build the sophisticated Lubowa Specialized Hospital. That is yet to happen and is hard to believe that the same government would trade with the same person in another deal.

That’s why it’s interesting that Frank Tumwebaze was back-tracking. When he was in the room with one of the agreements was signed. While we know that the different ministries and government entities has participated in this.

This follows Parliament’s move to investigate the deal that the government through the Ministry of Finance signed with the company. The agreement in question was signed in February 10, 2022, amending an earlier agreement signed on April 29, 2015, and the accompanying addenda signed on December 21, 2015 and 17 October 2017. The amendment gives Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited a monopoly over the purchase and export of coffee from Ugandan farmers” (Mary Karubaga – ‘Agriculture minister says not a party to Vinci coffee deal’ 13.04.2022, New Vision).

Commenting about the matter on Thursday, Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary, Ramathan Ggoobi defended the deal as one of the best the country can ever get. “The agreement was signed with Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited to assist in the development of an 80million dollar plant, add value to coffee and export it globally. The agreement was therefore signed following a protracted process of due diligence and feasibility studies,”Ggoobi said. To further defend the agreement, the Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary said the deal was cleared by the Attorney General and was subsequently signed within laws governing the country and that none was broken. Explaining about the agreement, Ggoobi explained that the agreement will support government in the realization of its coffee production target from the current 7 million bags per year to 20 million bags by 2030” (Kenneth Kazibwe – ‘Uganda: “It Is the Best Deal Ever” – Finance Ministry Defends Controversial Coffee Agreement’ 14.04.2022, Nilepost/AllAfrica).

After reading this. You would think everything was clear and things was moving. The last piece of information about the movement on the matter. Was that there was a field investigation in March 2020 on the site of the Coffee factory. Alas, there has been little to no movement, except for huge promises and big dreams of achievements.

The Vinci Company have worked with this since they we’re visiting the State House back in January 2014. That is over 8 years of little to no progress. Only more agreements and furthering a paper-trail of it. It is so slow… that it’s hard to believe it’s the best deal a government could have. Neither can the company be so great… when the movements are so slow. The promises of vast production and jobs seems far-fetched. When there is no proof on site and neither in general.

The Vinci Company and it’s Coffee Processing Factory seems to be a dream that won’t come into reality. The Government or the Company doesn’t have the ability to pull it off. This would make sense and be adding value to the coffee beans, which is growing in Uganda. The idea is positive and the amount of bags would make good profits. However, if it is sustainable or have the funds to do so.

You can wonder, if there was any feasibility study or anything else. As there are little to nothing to show for it. Only huge hubris from the government and now from the Ministry of Finance. Which has to 8 years later say it is a grand deal. While nothing can be proven. If it was the best deal ever. Why haven’t Vince Company set up shop long time ago and even built anything? This is going glacier slow and isn’t promising. Neither is the possible stipulations or articles of the hidden agreement. Which should be public. Because, a monopoly of all coffee beans is a bad deal and would possibly stifle the farmers who is selling their coffee-beans. Peace.

Opinion: Pinetti who cannot finish the “Lubowa Project” is now building a Coffee Processing Plant

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija today on behalf of Government of Uganda signed a project implementation agreement with the Board Chairman of Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited Ms Enrica Pinetti to establish a Coffee processing plant at Kampala Industrial and Business Park,Namanve” (10.02.2022).

There must be a secret connection between Italian investor Enrica Pinetti and the National Resistance Movement (NRM). Since this isn’t the first time any ministry or government entity has an agreement to build a structure and invest into the Republic.

Pinetti and Finasi Roko Construction made first agreements to build “Lubowa Project” or the International Specialized Hospital of Uganda (ISHU) back in 2015 with Project Works Investment Agreement, by 2018 a Direct Agreement and a Note Purchase Agreement in 2019.

We know that the “Lubowa Project” haven’t been successful or fulfilled it promises of a working hospital on time. Neither Finasi Roko SPV Limited, which engaged Power China Guizhou Engineering Co. Limited as the sub-contractor to do the work.

The state had agreements and paid out advances for the building of the hospital, which is still to be achieved. As the advances and the budget posts over the years has gone to the project, but the hospital isn’t built or become a unit, which is working within the Ministry of Health. Instead it has been a money-pit and a legal battleground between the company and various of ministries.

By April 2021 URN Alex Otto could report this about “Project Lubowa”:

In 2019, Parliament guaranteed a 1.4 trillion Shillings loan to Finasi/ROKO led by Italian investor Enrica Pinetti for the construction of the 264-bed Specialized health care project. However soon after the approval, news emerged that the joint venture between Finasi and Roko had collapsed amidst reports that up to 240 billion Shillings had gone missing before the project kicked off. While the Ministry of Health handed over the site on June 10, 2019, it hoped that the construction would be completed by June 2021. However, the project remains at the foundation level and, according to Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, it has been extended for now 15 more months” (Alex Otto – ‘Two years later, Lubowa Hospital Remains at Foundation Level’ 28.04.2021, Uganda Radio Network).

So, we have to wait even longer time for ISHU or finishing “Project Lubowa” because they have spent funds and it just becoming more expensive. A project that been a fault-line from the on-set and it has not created anything substantial … and its been a waste and continues to be a wreck of this regime.

With that knowledge the Pinetti project of Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited have been registered since January 2014 and a delegation from it held a meeting with President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni at the State House in July 2014. So, the company has been alive since then and now finalizing agreements with the Ministry of Finance in 2022.

What is striking is that the same government made agreement with the same business person back in 2015 and continued that project and even last year it was postponed until supposed completion. Therefore, the government should have more foresight than putting their money and hopes on the same people. As they haven’t done their proper due diligence… because these sorts of things shouldn’t have happened, but clearly its happening right in-front of our eyes.

The field investigation of the site that was planned for the Coffee Processing Plant was done in March 2020 by Alpha Geo – Engineering Limited. It has taken close two years to get an agreement with the Ministry of Finance. Therefore, we are seeing how slow and how the state doesn’t fact-check or questions the investor. As they have already a questionable reputation by what it has done with the funds for the “Project Lubowa”.

Now, the same business person who did that is now building a Coffee Processing Plant. I have a hard time believing the success of it. We should expect years of process, several more agreements and legal arguments, as well as postponed target deadlines. Since, the company and involved parties will make it long affair. We can expect court cases, ministries writing letters and directions of fresh funds, as it suddenly runs out of funds to contractors. That wouldn’t be shocking in the case of the Coffee Processing Plant, as the “Project Lubowa” should be a lesson for the government. However, they clearly have faith in the same persons to suddenly make things swiftly.

It is hard to believe that they would this but clearly they know they will get away with it. The state funds can be used for projects like these without any promise of fulfilment. The state shouldn’t go into agreement like these, but we know they work closely with Dott Services. Therefore, we know their friends and allies. It isn’t the supposed delivery or value of money that matters. It is the connection to the State House, which the Italian investor has had since 2014.

Nevertheless, the loser in this case is the taxpayer and citizens of the Republic. As the state throws money away on businesses like these without proper work ahead of it or concern of the possible spending on it. Peace.

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