Ever since the Libyan ownership of Uganda Telecom Limited went away, the company has been in the hands of the government. The company have lacked funds and investments, therefore, lacking the structure to even compete with Airtel and MTN Uganda.
Still, with this the in mind, earlier in the year of 2019. The UTL was searching for new private ownership, but without any luck. This company has been overtaken by the state in early 2017 and has never recovered.
So, too top it off, yesterday, State Minister for Investment Evelyn Anite claims the state has lost control of the company and that ghosts ran the UTL from Mauritius. Non-Existing Ghosts from the Island Paradise, whom run the company and been in charge. This as the company have been for two years under the control of the state, but apparently only on paper and not in real life.
The UTL is already a shipwreck; the boat is sinking and doing so, steadily for years. Ever since 2016 and the fall of Libyan investments has silently killed the company. Even if the state wants to save MANGO. It surely isn’t doing it properly and someone is scheming behind the scenes. Because, the company is still operating and able to keep services to the public. Even if they are weaker and older functions, than what Airtel and MTN provides now.
That the state is in such a disarray, that the company it has tried to get investors into investing in. Has executives, which is non-existing, that the Auditor General is not allowed to investigate and the Courts has to decide if a probe is possible. That the Speaker Kadaga have asked for a Parliament study of it. Shows what sort of altitude of nonsense that is operating.
Therefore, we are now in 21 June 2018, a company been run by the state since about 1st March 2017 and was in limbo already in late 2016. Nevertheless, the state should have gotten things fixed and have had the time to adjust the company for re-sell, if it was working on that. Alas, that seems not like it, as it is just another buy-bust and quick fix scheme. That is why the Ministry of Finance, the Auditor General or others cannot asses the financial aspects or documents from the UTL. Because, the UTL want to hide their blessers and who they are blessing.
We could laugh and smile about it, but this is a wastage of state funds, of state resources and of due diligence by the state. A state, whose main bank also shown signs of lacking protocol, so this is in a long line of lax security and lacking incentive to do proper work. The state could have salvaged something in late 2016 or early 2017. When the Libyans pulled out and the state took over. However, the state wasn’t prepared nor having the funds to make a swift delivery of the company to new ownership. Therefore, they have hold on to a company, which they clearly cannot control or have access too. Still, they are forking up needed funds when it asks. Since it is now a State Owned Enterprise.
UTL saga is sign of disgraceful, distasteful and disregard for the state, by state actors and state operators, whose taking the state and the public for fools. Instead of solving a problem, getting proper investors or even trying to make a company viable again. It is pumping blood to a dying corpse. Hoping no one is catching an eye and seeing the walking dead. Peace.
Since March 2017, the Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL) have been struggling, it started even before then, but at that time. The state started to intervene, by the next month in April 2017. The state had already put the company under provincial ownership. Meaning, that the state took it over and has tried to find new ownership of this company. Something it hasn’t succeeded in. This all happened because of the Libyan crisis in 2011 and the frozen accounts of Libya Post Telecommunications & IT Company (LPTIC), which had a majority ownership in the UTL until that point. However, they didn’t get all out before March 2017. Even as there was a set-up a new board in the Company in fall of 2016. Even, with all of this, the UTL continues to live, but by mere state injections and not because it is viable for business.
Even after a year in May 2018, the Cabinet announced that they were looking for new owners, alas, meaning that the state wouldn’t have the major stake in the company. Why I am saying all this? Well, the news this week that Minister Evelyn Anite and government sources states this:
“The source added that the government had created incentives to make the company more attractive. They include managing the backbone, wiping all the liabilities off the balance sheet, and that the government would take responsibility for the pension liability of more than Shs 30 billion to former UTL employees. Other liabilities that the government would take care of include the regulator’s fees and taxes. “All these wipe off the balance sheet and handed it [UTL] to you, clearly you can start from a clean slate.” the source said” (URN – ‘Gov’t offers to pay Shs 500bn UTL liabilities’ 20.04.2019, link: https://observer.ug/news/headlines/60467-gov-t-offers-to-pay-shs-500bn-utl-liabilities).
With this in mind, the state would clean the slate of the company, an embattled one who is fighting in a competitive market. Where it is directly competing against the mighty MTN and Airtel. Therefore, the UTL needs an decent upgrade, as it has been in a stalemate for years now. Where the lack of investment in the company and the debt it have already.
We can clearly see that the company is not so viable. The lack of interest and value is shown as the President even needed to direct the state ministries to use the UTL Internet Services and mobile phone services by a letter in January 2018. That is why, a year after that, the government sources are trying to connect it even more and juice it up. Even if it has little to offer.
The UTL doesn’t look solid or offering something of strong value for a buyer. As it has a strong competition and they are on point when concerning the telecom infrastructure, which the UTL haven’t the ability to afford to do or invest in. Therefore, the next owner has to pick up, where the Libyan owners left off. Since, the state haven’t done anything else, than keeping it alive. Peace.
Yep, the biggest bank and the Bretton Woods Organization called the World Bank has commended the works of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his plans for added taxes. That comes from the similar institution like International Monetary Fund, that ordered Uganda to follow the Structural Adjustment Plan (SAP), therefore, the IMF that fixed more privatization without lacking investments. Are now okaying a higher rising taxes on the Republic’s citizens. This is done, while the economy is not strengthen, but with added external and internal loans. Therefore, the rise of GDP and use of loans, as well as repayments on those loans will sooner or later hurt the economy. Even with the rise of taxes. This will be start of vicious cycle where the state is issuing loans and taxes, while the revenue is used to repay loans, not development. It is basically. But before I go into the deep of the part of the troubling take from the World Bank. Let me just show you quickly the result of the SAP and their advice there.
“The studies also make it clear that for SAP-type policies to have a chance of success, certain preconditions are necessary. The public sector had certain social responsibilities that the current framework has pushed it out of but without “a proper handing over” to the private sector. The assumption and hope were that the market would fill the gap left by the retreating state. Clearly this has not happened. There is therefore need for Government either to retain certain key social sectors, or only hand them over to the private sector only when the latter is ready to effectively take them over. Clearly non-profit making aspects of social responsibility cannot and do not get taken over by the private sector. For poverty to be reduced there are certain social responsibilities or even whole sectors that can only effectively be handled by the public sector. Welfare systems and subsidies to farmers in the developed world attest to the need for the retention of these key areas by the public sector. Therefore a policy that proscribes such a hand-over must also ensure that it is done in a verifiable manner so that the private sector can be held to account. Civil society has in the past tried to fill the gap but this has been done in an ad hoc manner” (Kevin Akoyi Makokha – ‘STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT PARTICIPATORY REVIEW INITIATIVE (SAPRI) – UGANDA COUNTRY REPORT: A synthesis of the Four SAPRI Studies’ September 2001).
So, when the last system from the World Bank and IMF was introduced the system and the government wasn’t ready to privatize, however, that didn’t stop them or the government to do so. Especially since the funds and loans at the time came with the hitch of doing so. Therefore, the troubles with the privatization and the lacking oversight is also partly because of these programs subsidized by these organizations. That is why the World Bank and IMF should be more careful professing what sort of thing would be genuine and sincere, since they have messed up before. It isn’t only the State House who has messed up, he has gotten help and followed the procedures of these mechanisms. If not, he wouldn’t be able to eat such vast amounts of donor funding in the past. This is well-known, but the lack of oversight, is because of the will of wanting to have control and a say in everything. That is why the letter from the President to Minister of Finance, is the reason for the new levied taxes. So, if you wonder why I have distrust to the World Bank and IMF, it is because of their history and that the public is paying for it, because their impact on the governments for the reasons. That these states should be guinea-pigs for the economy belief of trickling down economics, even as the results has begged differ if it really drips back into the system again. Which it doesn’t because the ones that gets a lot want to keep it and get some more. No dole it out to anyone they can find.
Here is what the World Bank stated today: “In the special section of the Update, the report analyses how Uganda could raise more domestic revenues to support its development. Uganda’s tax system is one of the most modern in the region, but revenue collections, at 14 percent of GDP, are low, and way below its tax potential. Tax avoidance and evasion, partly resulting from generous tax exemptions to investors, weak tax administration, and a large informal sector (now at 80 percent), pose challenges to increasing revenues. Up to 5 percent of GDP is lost annually in tax leakages. Personal income tax contributes roughly 18 percent of GDP compared to up to 40 percent in developed countries. VAT collections amount to 4 percent of GDP, but would rise to 6 percent if there were no exemptions. The report suggests that Uganda could widen its tax base by tapping into areas that are outside the tax net; applying tax instruments correctly and fairly; improving efficiency, transparency and accountability in tax administration; and delivering better public services” (World Bank – ‘Improving Taxation to Finance Uganda’s Development’ 15.05.2018).
Therefore, the World Bank likes the idea of adding more tax on the Mobile Money transactions and the movement of digital cash, as well as on Airtime and other needed things. The ones that hasn’t a bank-account or the ability to fund or even try to get a loans from the banking system. Are okayed by the World Bank as possible targets for taxes. This isn’t transparent, but making it more expensive to be poor, as the rates to transmit and the use mobile money will come. The companies whose use this method will bill the users, they will not take the hit. The same with all the traders and the importers of all the other items that was on the lists of the newly taxed items.
I doubt these new taxes will do any good, it will just be more funds for the elites, the NRM and the President to eat. They are not delivering government services with the trillions of shillings they are using now. They are billing up to their asses and spending rampant, without having the revenue. That is why the rising debts are there. Instead of living frugal and thinking of the future, the NRM and President Museveni are eating like there is no tomorrow!
State House, the President and the Cabinet are eating heavy, they are not delivering, they have no plans to do so. If so, they give locally when needed, but the lack of transparency and accountability, is the reason for missing funds. Recently even the documents from the GAVI Funds was taken from the Ministry of Health. Therefore, a government who cannot be trusted with funds giving donations to help the sick, how can we believe the tax put on Mobile Money will go to roads or teachers?
I doubt that, I am not that naive, this NRM has proven for 32 years, that they are eating and not caring. The World Bank can commend and praise. While I condemn, until they prove that they money are delivered to the schools, that the teachers have their salaries and the civil servants are properly paid. Not just hiring some random Cubans to fix the issues for a short time. That is not how to build a national health care system. That is how to mock the ones you already have. Peace.
On the 19th April 2018, the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) has sent a letter ordering all Internet Service Providers (ISP), that they are ordered to block “unauthorized” Online Data. That meaning the internet service providers can because of this block pages and news-outlets that isn’t accepted by the Government of Uganda. The National Resistance Movement (NRM) are really having a warfare on the content online. As it has already added taxes on airtime, on mobile money and also now asking to block pages too.
We can surely know that UCC will really struggle to give authorization to media houses, web-pages and content that questions the government. The letter from the government says it very clearly:
“The purpose of this letter therefore, is to DIRECT you to IMMEDIATELY SUSPEND the provision of caring services to any Online Data communication service provider (online/Electronic Media News provider) that is not listed above and/or has not presented an authorization certificate or other express clearance from the Uganda Communication Commission” (Letter from Fred Otunnu to ISP – ‘Letter to ISPs on Unauthorized Online Data Communications Service Providers’ 19.04.2018).
They have put a list of 14 companies, where only two are authorized, these are Nile Post News Uganda Limited and China Haijang Online Africa Ltd. There are dozens other which is not, these are in process, the ones known are Chimps Media Ltd and Trumpet Media Ltd. Therefore, many pages are not here. There are dozens of outlets not mentioned or asked for authorization from the UCC.
That the UCC are attacking the online content is clear. The UCC are using their power and force to silence certain media. This is to stop the content the government doesn’t see fit. They are now trying to get all companies, who are using the platforms online to register, to give license and operate. That the UCC are having sleepless nights is evident. As they have already made it hard to register sim-cards lately, also the same government who wants to monitor porn. So this is continuation of the trying to control all online content.
This should be a field day for the Attorneys working Pro-Bono for the Online Content makers as the censorship of the government comes into force. Just like it did, when the UCC had a black-out and VPN during the General Election of 2016. The NRM are really afraid of free-spirited people and the UCC are losing their marbles.
This is to show, that if your not registered at us, we will order the ISPs to not show your page, block your ideas, your content and everything you got through telecommunications. Only way to get through that is using VPN. So the citizens should use VPN to the content from pages and apps that the government has blocked. Peace.
You know there fiscal problems within the Government of Uganda (GoU). The GoU is on the rocks, as they are establishing more loans, more interests to pay and has leveraged their forex exchange, when they are levying today’s amount of new taxes. This is coming as reports of lacking hiring for the Civil Service, The Ministry of Public Service has suspended hiring of new positions in the districts and at the government institutions. This is happening, as the amount of cronies around the President is growing. Therefore, the wastage of funds are in and around the President, who can pledge funds as he wishes and give Presidential Handshakes to whoever he likes or needs. Therefore, today is sad day for transparency, as the state is eating itself, but not taking care of the needed services.
We know the state is poor, when the lacking banking-service and with the need of Mobile Money and Airtime on the Cellphones are getting hit by a tax. This is not social media tax, but is that the subscriber and user of the services, will get a withholding tax of 10% on transactions on Mobile Money and Airtime. This means, every time a Ugandan or someone buys airtime, in the price they are paying an added 10 % on the total price of the usage of minutes of airtime or making the transaction of funds between two funds more costly. This is really hitting the breadwinners and the ones who are servicing mobile money from the towns to villages.
Just to prove to how much the added cost on the Mobile Money is wished, as the withholding tax, they are adding direct also the excise tax on this from 10% to 15%, that means the added is 5% more on each transaction. If that isn’t excessive, just think about the two other taxes as well. Therefore, the state has added three taxes on using the phones. The citizens will have to plan more transactions, as they are more costly and will be less transactions of the amount, since the tax will shave off the amount of shillings sent to the fellow they wanted to give needed money through these services.
They are adding even more on every telecommunication services, not just the hit of withholding tax on it, but they are even adding an excise duty on it as well, meaning there are two pieces of taxes put on the same services, but at different times. Making the expenses of using the cellphones, hitting the roof and the value of the airtime dwindles, as you are paying more tax on each minute use. This excise duty is put on the level of 12% as well. So, expect the prices on airtime to rocket, as this hit both the agents to pay more tax on each, and also the cost of actually calling too. This is funds that the Telecommunication Companies will get back from the consumer, meaning citizens will pay more being in touch.
As they continue to give price hikes on necessities, they are putting a levy of 200shs on each liter of cooking oil, this meanings the price for making rollex or banana-pancakes will go up. Since before you buy the eggs and the flour to make your dish. You will pay more for each bottle, while the state gets simple taxation on this single item. It might seems pointless, but all fried foods will be more costly to make and a Samosa will cost more to make, therefore, expect a price hike on the hawkers foods in any stage where you waiting.
These are just some of the measures done by the state, there are several more, but this is really hitting the average citizen usage of phones and also cooking. This are just two items on a long lists of new taxes put on the people. Clearly, the state see the need for spikes of prices, growing inflation and lack of monetary control to come, as the chickens come to roost and the costs of debt services is hitting the fan.
The ones that has to pay for that, isn’t the elite, but all of the citizens who spends time outside their homes and buys into services. Which, means all of them. Peace.