In the newest report of Oil Roads, which is expected to borrow funds for. The China Exim Bank is supposed to be provider of 85 % of the cost of the operation and building of the roads in these projects. I will only look into one of them, as I have previously looked at this significant one.
This is the Hoima-Butiaba-Wasenko Road. A project that was supposed to start in 2015 and was clocking in funds from the state budgets in 2017. Back in 2015, the road was estimated to cost $126m USD. Today, with the recent report, the same road is costing $179,538m USD. That is jump of nearly $50m in a five years time. In addition, of these bloated funds, 85 % of it will be loaned from China and the rest 15% covered by the Government of Uganda (GoU).
In 2017, this project was designated the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), which signed a deal in January 2016. However, by the time of the report 2019, it is another Chinese Company who has the contract. This is Chongqing International Construction Corporation (CRC) Ltd. With the recent contract, the loans are clearly getting direct back to the Chinese, as their corporations are the ones with the contracts to build. A clever way of borrowing and then getting returns.
With this mind, we can see the changes, see over the years how the price has changed. If Members of Parliament was afraid of the price per kilometre in the past. They should be now. As the changes of price on the same project has changed significantly. There is no doubt, that the Chinese government are getting added loans on each of the packages in this deal. As this is just one of the roads in question.
This is 111km is now costing 659,921,964,460.17UGX in Ugandan terms or 659bn shillings and that equals to about 5,9bn shillings. Therefore, the prices has sky-rocketed and the price per kilometre is abnormal and extremely costly. The overpriced asphalt and the consultation is in absurd levels. The previosly estimated price for this road was about 444bn shillings. Therefore, we can see rising price between the years in both currencies. About 200bn shillings growth in 5 years.
To many cooks and too few ingredients. They are boiling soup on nails on this one. Wonder how this will end. As I felt in 2017, that the pricing of this particular road was a bit too much, but now they have just escalated it.
We can wonder whose eating, but someone is. We just don’t know who, because there been designated funds to build this one in the past and it has still not commenced. Surely, this road will be built, but at what point. However, with the added loans, the pressure should be on. Also, to secure the oil so it makes financial sense too. That the added value is there. It got to be. Because this project is over the top. This is the real OTT service, paid for by the Chinese and the tab is all taken by the Ugandans. Peace.
If you were ever thinking that Beijing would loan and build without consequence. Those days should long be gone. The Chinese are planning to earn money on their investments, they don’t care about the Republic’s they are investing in, as long as they are profits on their investments. They want earn on these loans and since the rate of loans are so high. They are now starting to pick collateral for their infrastructure loans, especially the draining of loans to the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
“While acknowledging China’s leading role in the Kenyan economy as a trading partner, the President called for increased Chinese investments in the country. “China now ranks as the number one trading partner with Kenya accounting for 17.2% of Kenya’s total trade with the World,” he said. “Kenya is open and safe for business. Kenya has one of the most conducive business environments in Africa,” the President added” (President.Go.Ke – ‘President Kenyatta Asks China To Give Preferential Treatment For African Goods’ 02.11.2018).
While Kenyatta are acting as it all positive, the reality is that the state are having giant issues with their “investments” and loans there. But Kenyatta wants to make it sound positive, when it really isn’t, just the rate of the loans have grown and the consequences of the relationship with China is now starting to cost. It is the Kenyans that has to pay these loans down and with every way possible. As the Chinese has leverage over the Kenyan government. Take a look at these quotes from media recently!
Loan Rate in Kenya:
“Kenya’s current public debt stands at approximately 4.884 trillion Kenyan shillings (USD$49 billion) or 56.4% of the country’s gross domestic product.. This is up from 42.8% in 2008. In other words, the country owes more than half the value of its economic output (GDP)” (…) “China is Kenya’s largest creditor, holding about 72% of the country’s bilateral debt as of March 2017. Studies show that Kenya’s Chinese debt poses a threat because the loan agreements are not transparent, projects are not well prioritised, accounting procedures are weak and it’s not clear what projects are costing” (Odongo Kodongo – ‘Kenya’s public debt is rising to dangerous levels’ 05.08.2018).
Selling State Owned Enterprises:
“The Privatisation Commission has approved sale of 26 state-owned corporations to raise funds to support the budget. The commission, under the Privatisation Act, 2005, was mandated to sell 26 poorly performing state corporations to cut down government spending. Those approved for sale are National Bank of Kenya, Consolidated Bank of Kenya, Kenya Meat Commission, Development Bank of Kenya, East African Portland Cement, Kengen, Kenya Pipeline Corporation, Kenya Ports Authority, and five sugar millers — Chemilil, Sony, Nzoia, Miwani and Muhoroni. Others are Agrochemical and Food Corporation, New Kenya Co-operative Creameries, Numerical Machining Complex and Isolated Power stations, hotels (Kabarnet Hotel, Mt Elgon Lodge Ltd, Golf Hotel Ltd, Sunset Hotel Ltd and Kenya Safari Lodges and Hotels Ltd). Also targetted are Kenya Tourism Development Corporation-associated companies, which include International Hotels Kenya Ltd, Kenya Hotels Properties Ltd, Mountain Lodge Ltd and Ark Ltd” (Cynthia Ilako – ‘State to sell 26 companies to finance current budget’ 03.11.2018, The Star Kenya).
China Selling Infrastructure Loans to Investors:
“The plan will see Hong Kong mortgage insurer Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation (HKMC) buy a diverse basket of infrastructure loans next year and explore the idea of “securitising” or repackaging them into securities for sale to investors, allowing it extra liquidity that it can loan out to finance more infrastructure projects. “This initiative we believe will help ‘recycle’ commercial banks’ capital to be redeployed into other greenfield infrastructure projects, besides enabling wider capital markets participation in infrastructure development under the Road and Belt initiative,” said HKMC Greater China chief executive Helen Wong” (Allan Olingo – ‘China plans to sell off its African infrastructure debt to investors’ 05.11.2018).
We are seeing the growth of loans, that is up 42,8% and the debt level of the 56,4% of the GDP. Because of that, the state are now selling of their State Owned Enterprises. Most likely to Chinese holding companies and investors, who are expecting to gets points on their dollars. As well, as securing their future on the investment. They are selling the central institutions and businesses, which was state controlled, but they will now become para-stalls of the Chinese.
But selling the institutions are not enough for the Chinese. They are planning to take it further. Planning to rehash the loans as sub-prime loans for investors, meaning they are taking the risk instead of the Export-Import Bank of China, where the loans are usually collected and distributed from. Therefore, the loans are another target of more profits as they want to earn on them as well into the Capital Market. Just like the US Banks did with House Loans and mortgages in the past.
While all that is happening and with the knowledge of this, the President is still keeping it cool. Kenyatta is still not saying the brazen truth, that they are a debt-slave to China. Are in such big trouble, that the investment of the SGR are killing the economy and they have to trade-off their assets to keep up with their payments. That is what is happening and this is not really developing, but hurting the economy even more. As this institutions and businesses has been controlling their markets. Now, they will have masters from outside, which are not there to secure the market, but make a direct profit. Therefore, the citizens are not only paying their loans for the railroads, but for destroying their economy. Peace.
The Government of Kenya and the Government of Uganda, should both worry about their arrangements and their growing debts, as the non-sustainable rates of debt and higher interests. As the unnatural growth of the national budget, where the lack of revenue is covered with more state debt. To cover both salaries and development projects. All of this has happen over the recent years. As more and more of the yearly budget goes to pay interest on old loans, as the old loans also mature and the rates will become more dire. As the strength of the economy isn’t going in the same rates as the loans. This is in the end a debt trap. A debt trap China has used in other countries.
Sri Lanka is the recent example, which has come into a debt trap, where the Chinese loans has become so dire, become so big and not able to recover. That the collateral for the state was to favorable lease the harbor of Hambantota to the Chinese. They had too, since they couldn’t repay the creditor from Peking. That should be realization from all the others who borrows big and think that the Chinese will not get something valuable back for their funding.
This should be a warning for the Kenyan and Ugandan counterparts, this should be a warning for President Kenyatta and President Museveni. That is if they care about the state resources, about their minerals and about the possible extractions from their republics. If they want to be debt-slaves, or lease away the crown jewels to the Chinese, because they promised favorable debt plans, that in the end put them in juxtaposition, that they cannot come out off; unless they trade away something very valuable. If that would be licenses to drill oil in Turkana or in Bunyoro.
Who knows what the end-game of these massive loans are and if the Presidents and their parties plans to repay them. Or hope that the next generation will try to invent new way of generating money. If so, then they are saved by rare luck and not by planning ahead. These loans are big and taking bigger and bigger slices of the GDP. They are going far beyond the levels of revenue and possible future forecast of funds. Therefore, the loans can only at this point benefit the ones giving them. They will get the repayments and the interests. If they don’t get that, they will take collateral and take other state entities to get their values back. The Chinese are doing that in Sri Lanka, they could easily do that with Kenya and Uganda too. They are in for the taking and ready to muscled out.
The Chinese doesn’t play and doesn’t play with money, they will recollect and they will recover the funds spent. As they are not playing games, they are really investing and hoping to get paid-in-full. They are waiting for the numbers to go from red to black. They don’t expect to loose, and if they do. They will figure other ways to collect the lost.
President Kenyatta and President Museveni should know this, but I doubt they are thinking in this direction right now. They are eating and not caring, but their states and their economist should worry. As the growing debts has a backside, not only the interests and the lack of development it creates, as they have to find bigger revenue to cover the debt and the mature loans, as they have to settle old affairs and such. They don’t go away or get deleted over nothing. They got to take charge and find a way to solve it.
The Chinese will take advantage if they start to default, if they struggle to pay, which could come, if the loans and the negative spiral of lack of revenue continues. That is if the state doesn’t find ways to repay. Than, the Chinese might take a port, might take state owned enterprise, but surely they will be paid-in-full. Peace.
This should not surprise you, that the Chinese government and their subsidiary businesses are making sure they are gets the best deal with the Ugandan counterparts. The Bank of Uganda policy paper are spelling out the advantages for the Chinese in the bilateral and the state-to-state offerings given to the Ugandans. They are clearly getting infrastructure loans and plyaing minor rolse in GVCs, therefore, the Ugandans are people loaning for infrastructure and then repaying, while the Chinese contractors and Chinese labor are working on the indebted projects. Just take a look, it is not a positive read!
“It should be emphasised, however, that for Uganda to leverage the shifting growth dynamics in China (such as a shrinking labour force, rising wages and an appreciated Renminbi), it must create a conducive investment climate. Low wages and a competitive exchange rate alone will not make much difference without reliable power and transport links, or in the face of suffocating bureaucracy and corruption” (Bank of Uganda, P: 6, 2017).
“With the migration of labour-intensive manufacturing shifting from China and an improvement in investment climate, Uganda also stands to expand its involvement in global trade, including Global Value Chains (GVCs). Historically, countries like Uganda have played a relatively minor role in GVCs. Figure 5 below, which illustrates a useful measure of Uganda’s integration in GVCs, relative to other sub-Saharan countries, indicates that Uganda is below the average value-chain position for developing countries” (Bank of Uganda, P: 6, 2017).
“It must be pointed out that while China has emerged as a significant financer of infrastructure projects in Africa, it still lags behind both private investment and the more traditional sources of funding. Recent research actually reveals that, over the past few years, China has contributed about only one-sixth of the US$30 billion Africa receives annually as external finance for infrastructure” (…) “Moreover, most of this financing to the transport and energy sector takes the form of state-to-state, non-concessional deals and comes from the Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim Bank). Examples of the major state-to-state deals signed with China Exim Bank in Uganda include: US$1.4 billion and US$483 million for Karuma and Isimba hydropower dams as well as US$350 million for the construction of the Kampala-Entebbe express highway” (Bank of Uganda, P: 7-8, 2017).
“For Uganda, which has so far committed up to US$ 2.3 billion in contracts with China Exim bank and is soon to take on more debt for projects like the Standard Gauge Railway, debt sustainability is a growing issue of concern; underscored by the fact that the country faces a low tax-to-GDP ratio relative to its regional peers and significant public investment challenges. Uganda’s debt as a percentage of revenues has risen by 54% since 2012 and is expected to exceed 250% by 2018, raising calls for caution and improved public investment management from various policy circles including the IMF, World Bank and Moody’s, which downgraded Uganda’s long-term bond rating in 2016 citing deteriorating debt affordability” (Bank of Uganda, P: 10, 2017).
This here report shows both the possible troubles with the debt, that already are problem with current budget, but will become bigger. Secondly, that the relationship and bilateral business agreements with China, will only benefit China and not Uganda. As they might get the infrastructure projects, but they have to repay the debt and also use funds on labor from the Chinese contractors and businesses. They are not hiring and educating locals to work these sorts, because Chinese are getting their own hired.
This here is not bringing positive results, but instead are being a nice debt collector for China and will be indebted to them. While the Ugandans gets scarps from the Chinese, as the infrastructure projects like the Dam they have bought on debt, has been said is “shoddy” work. That proves the Chinese gets easy money, get expat workers and later returns on every single Yen. Peace.
Dollar, David; Mugyenyi, Akura & Ntungire, Nicole – ‘How can Uganda benefit from China’s economic rise?’ (August 2017) – International Growth Centre Uganda & Bank of Uganda
As the Budget Framework paper for Financial Year 2017/2018 in Uganda, the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) requested for the roads a total of Shs. 1,779bn and the required just to build the road in this budget year alone where 1,107bn. This was seen as a strategic area from the state, as the road is seen as one of them Oil Roads. Which, is one of the most important projects the government has, as the future profits of these are soon all used before the drilling starts. This with the giant projects and the misuse of funds. This is epitome with the Hoima-Butiaba-Wasenko road! Just take a look at the reports collected on the road. But the official paper of the budget said otherwise than the framework, who was just nonsense.
While the Budget report to the Parliament of May 2017 Vote 113 UNRA Hoima – Wanseko Oil Road Shs. 29.00bn. This funds will be available after reconciliation of numbers. While the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) where planning proposed numbers for the Oil Roads and the Hoima – Wanseko road where the length of 83 kilometers, and the budget was 444bn. Which is a bit more than the vote! And doesn’t fit with the records even. The numbers are staggering and confusing. As to put it further every unit or kilometers are estimated to cost 5,35bn. So the cost of the oil-road just in this budget year is insane.
“Hon. Cecilia Ogwal expresses concern about the cost of the Hoima-Butiana-Wasenko oil road of shs53billion per kilometre” (Parliament, 31.05.2017). The Road that is under construction and is upgraded are 111 kilometers road. If the MP’s estimate is correct means the road cost shs. 5,883bn or Shs. 5.8 trillions. In the budget plenary session on the 31st May 2017 she was also very adamant that the roads who we’re budgeted without feasability studies should be cut and get other use of the funds. Still, that didn’t happen. One of these roads was the oil-road of Hoima-Butiaba-Wasenko. But with this years Budget report and actual feasibility study alone, proves the state will use 444bn on the road. As the other reports prove what they we’re planning to use. But this project started in 2015 and the reports of the misspending on it, seems so big as it gets. So the Road development and the Oil Road could be proof of another UNRA scandal. Take a look!
“The works on Hoima-Butiaba- Wanseko road are expected to start during the second half of 2015. This is subject to availability of funding for the project,” said Dan Alinange, the UNRA head of corporate communications” (Rwothungeyo, 2014).
Hoima-Butiaba-Wanseko cost Shs. 454bn:
“Works minister John Byabagambi and the new Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) executive director Allen Kagina have agreed to handpick a contractor for Hoima-Butiaba-Wasenko road despite an earlier petition on influence-peddling and fraud in the process. Mr Byabagambi has also changed from his earlier position where he opposed the move, when he was still a junior minister. A whistleblower had raised the red flag in a petition to Ms Kagina indicating that the project cost had been inflated by Shs66 billion ($20 million)” (…) “The 111km road stretches from Hoima to Butiaba on Lake Albert and one of the major corridors in the oil-rich Albertine Graben in south western Uganda. The project is expected to cost Shs454 billion” (Musisi, 2015).
UNRA on the Spot:
“The third road project, pointed out by the whistleblower is the 55km Hoima-Butiaba-Wanseko road. According to the dossier, bids for the road were opened on January 22, 2016 and the deal was awarded to China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) at Shs 398 billion. According to the whistleblower, this would translate into $2m per kilometre, which is exorbitant. The whistleblower notes that this is way above construction estimates posted on the Unra website, which are at $960,000 per kilometre. Later, after an outcry from some bidders, Unra cancelled the deal, the whistleblower says. “The IGG should investigate the people who crafted this ignominious evaluation and bring them to book. They should even be interdicted as investigations continue,” notes the dossier. The whistleblower claims that roads in the oil sub-region of Bunyoro have been restricted to only Chinese firms because of the funding from Exim bank. Local and other foreign firms, the dossier noted, were left out” (Kiggundu, 2017).
So the prices of the budget framework and the budget report of 2017/2018, as the whistleblower of early May 2017 are clearly saying that the $2m per kilometers on the Hoima-Butiaba-Wanseko. If the US Dollars are Currency converted into Uganda Shillings which means the price per kilometers are Shs. 7,187bn, that means the price calculated by the budget and the MoFPED are Shs. 5,35bn. That means that are a difference in the price per kilometers which is Shs. 1.837bn. If the budget would be correct than the total price for the 83 kilometers, would e 596bn. I also find it strange that the UNRA budget and length on the FY 2017/2018 is 83 kilometers, as the initial length was 111 kilometers. That is also a length of roads that suddenly couldn’t disappear.
This road is surely more expensive than the government wants it to be, or certainly some lost public funds. Not shocking in the nation run by National Resistance Movement. The total tally of the cost will be revealed, but is not yet. Peace
Kiggundu, Edris – ‘UNRA on spot over Chinese contracts’ (03.05.2017) link: http://observer.ug/news/headlines/52685-unra-on-spot-over-chinese-contracts.html
Musisi, Frederic – ‘Minister, Kagina hand-pick contractor’ (26.06.2015) link:http://mobile.monitor.co.ug/News/Minister–Kagina-hand-pick-contractor/2466686-2765360-format-xhtml-9uhqklz/index.html
Rwothungeyo, Billy – ‘Hoima-Butiaba-Wanseko road for upgrade’ (02.01.2014) link: http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1336203/hoima-butiaba-wanseko-road-upgrade
“The government is borrowing without proper revenue planning or policies that factor in revenue growth challenges. This, according to Parliament’s Budget Office, coupled with the growing need to finance projects, will see the level of Kenya’s debt increasing in the coming year, which is already a cause for concern for some” (Kenya NTV, 2016)
Today is a day where I have questions and they are big because when you crunch the numbers for the last three fiscal years and estimated debt ratio it’s start to be worrying. It isn’t a sweet and tender way of asking. I know, but the numbers and the citizens will have to repay the amounts of borrowed cash at one point. As the Japanese will not deliver second-hand vehicles to the hospitals forever like they did during either this or last week in Kenya; Kenyan Government shouldn’t base their budget on handouts, but on tax-monies. The budget now is worrying as the levels of budget that are borrowed as it is going directly to portfolios that are day-to-day business instead of giant infrastructure development.
Why do I say that? Because each year you can question the ratio between the debt and the development projects; like in 2013/2014 the debt we’re 330bn, but the development 224bn. That is a 100bn used on day-to-day instead of building roads to Ethiopia or planning the Standard Gauge Railway. Take look!
In the 2013/2014:
At the fiscal year ending the 25th July 2014 the budget debt we’re 330,440,692,719.35. That means there 330bn debt, which we’re 25.8% of the National Revenue. National Government budget spent on development we’re 224,355,607,699.00 or 224bn.
In the 2014/2015:
At the fiscal year ending 24th July of 2015 the budget debt we’re 400,249,353,175.10. That means there 400bn debt, which we’re 25.1% of the National Revenue. National Government spent on development we’re 270,320,838,230.00 or 270bn.
In the 2015/2016:
At the fiscal year ending the 22nd July of 2016 the budget debt we’re 683,479,898,203.50. That means there 683bn debt, which we’re 36.9% of the National Revenue. National Government spent on development we’re 333,170,357,469.90 or 333bn.
So as you see, the FY 2013/2014 isn’t the worst. FY 2014/2015 is the start of loose government spending. The Jubilee all of sudden borrow 400bn and spends 270bn. That is 130bn that is used on day-to-day business, with loaned fiscal funds instead of the ordinary tax-base that the government should be fixated on. So with the last year FY 2015/2016 the Jubilee went all out in the stratosphere and borrowed from any bank or institution possible; as the debt we’re 683bn and the development we’re 333bn. That is 350bn that are used to day-to-day business and not development. The question remain why the sudden giant loan ratio towards the last year before election and why the lack of projects to use the newly granted funds.
The fiscal responsibility seems weak and not there when a government can splash this kind of funds and use this amount of debt on day-to-day instead of big projects and infrastructure projects needed. I am sure DP William Ruto has more friends that can be sub-contractors for some Chinese infused borrowed road projects around Kisumu. But, the ability to sustainable development with the steady rise of debt is worrying. That the IMF and World Bank is saying the debt ratio is still feasible should be worrying. As the IMF and World Bank never had control of the worst years before the Greece defaulted and needed saving grace from the world around it. The worst comes to worst when the Kenyan Government starts to default and reach it’s limit they have to have a mercy on the Jubilee and the counterparts who are paying for loose fiscal behaviour. The worst comes to worst with the giant amount of added fiscal funds might give the economy a edged inflation and bank rates that weakens the Kenyan Shilling as the deficit between reality and what is really used.
You can wonder why the Jubilee wants to hedge up so much loans and government debt. When the FY 2013/2014 and FY 2014/2015 we’re the net domestic borrowing around 300bn, but by FY 2015/2016 it become 500bn. That is a jump of 200bn of Domestic Borrowing. That should also be questioned together with the ratio already in the budget. This doesn’t seem like a healthy fiscal policy. The public should question the use of the borrowed domestic and total ratio of debt. The governance levels and accountability of the funds should be asked from Opposition and also the Auditor General. The Inspectorate of Government the IGG or Ombudsman should hassle the hustling Jubilee who has gained these funds and been responsible for the allocated budget and inquired for the option for loans to development and day-to-day use.
What do you think? Peace.