By Kagenyi Lukka
Happy 2019 to you all esteemed readers of this leading news site. The New Year challenges us to work faster, harder and smarter.
A bigger part of the year 2018 was riddled with loads of questions that revolved around how the Bank of Uganda regulates commercial banks including the processes of takeover and sale. It was the year when a damning Auditor general’s special audit report on defunct commercial banks (1993-2016) was released.
The closed banks include; Teefe Bank (1993), International Credit Bank Ltd (1998), Greenland Bank (1999), The Co-operative Bank (1999), National Bank of Commerce (2012), Global Trust Bank (2014) and Crane Bank Ltd(2016).
The report among others; faulted Bank of Uganda for selling commercial banks without policies and guidelines, failing to respect the financial institutions act, selling some banks on an unexplained discount 93%,paying exorbitant fees to external lawyers and failing to submit key documents to the auditors.
After the auditor general’s report was handed over to the speaker of parliament.Rt Honorable Rebecca Kadaga, a parliamentary probe ensued in the committee of Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) which is chaired by Outgoing Bugweri Member of parliament, Hon Abdu Katuntu and Hon Anita Among, the Bukedea Woman MP.
Katuntu is a senior lawyer of international standing and has been in parliament for close to 20 years while Among has been a university lecturer for close to ten years.
It is without disagreement in the court of public opinion including me that Katuntu and Among have not only steadily but also wisely steered the committee work especially probing the crisis at the Bank of Uganda.
COSASE which is one of the standing committees of parliament serves a term of two and a half years before its leadership can be altered by the opposition leadership.
Katuntu and Among were replaced by Kawempe South Legislator, Mubarak Munyagwa and his Rubaga North Counterpart, Moses Kasibante as chair and deputy chair respectively.
The appointment of Munyagwa and Kasibante evoked mixed reactions from the public with a section questioning the investigative competencies and abilities of the pair. Also, worth noting is that it was done before the expiry of Katuntu’s term which was due on 13th January 2019.
The above changes seem to have been informed by the internal party disagreements with in the Forum for Democratic Change owing in mind the fact that Abdu Katuntu is a diehard supporter of former FDC president, Gen Mugisha Muntu while Munyagwa on the otherhand, viciously supports Patrick Oboi Amuriat(POA)-The current FDC party president.
However, the speaker of parliament recently wrote to the leader of opposition requesting her to allow the current cosase to continue with the probe into the BoU crisis until 20th February 2019.
“I’m writing to the Leader of Opposition to agree that we change those committees on the 20th day of February 2019 to give them time to close that matter because the inquiry has reached critical stage of the investigations, and changing leadership now may jeopardize effective conclusion of this inquiry.” Kadaga is quoted by the observer of 21st December 2018.
While the FDC has a right to make changes in cosase, such should always take into account the performance of the current committee and the overriding public approval Katuntu has received. Why should FDC change a winning combination?
Secondly, the Katuntu led committee is in the final stages of interfacing with parties that important in probing the BoU crisis and has up to the end of February 2019 to conclude and present its report to the house, and therefore allowing other people to takeover can invite suspicious actors who might hamper the normal progress of this process.
Finally, all parties including the FDC should put country before self and look at the wider benefit that will accrue from the probe. Because we have never had an independent report about closing of commercial banks and the Katuntu committee provides us with a long awaited opportunity that should not be aborted at the expense of settling political scores.
The author is a current affairs analyst and the next Ikiiki MP.