The Parliamentary Finance Committee has tasked officials from Uganda Development Bank (UDB) to account for the Shs455bn by presenting the list of beneficiaries and criteria used while giving out this money.
In August last year, Parliament approved a supplementary budget of Shs455bn under UDB to help local businesses that were affected by Covid-19.
According to Deputy Executive Director UDB Denis Ochieng, after receiving the money, UDB signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development containing guidelines on how to spend the funds.
Ochieng said that the guidelines required that the money be loaned out to businesses that were to be involved in improving the production of essential goods and services, and others working on import substitution.
As of February 2021, the Bank has only disbursed Shs202bn to the beneficiaries.
However, reports have showed that since last year, Parliament has been receiving a lot of complaints about how the bank handpicks beneficiaries leaving others behind. Following the increased complaints, the MPs on the finance committed summon the UDB officials to explain.
While in the meeting with MPs on Wednesday at Parliament, Ochieng hesitated to present the list of beneficiaries and to detail how much each beneficiary received from the stimulus package. However, he noted that Shs192b was disbursed to support primary agriculture, agro-industrialization, and manufacturing industries.
However, MPs asked why some companies have been left out yet the Shs455bn was appropriated by parliament to help keep all local companies that were struggling as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Finance Committee Chairperson Henry Musasizi told UDB officials that the committee needs answers on the particulars of the beneficiaries from the stimulus package.
Musasizi also tasked officials to tell the committee why struggling schools have been not been considered, he then asked them to display the amount spent on saving struggling schools.
While reacting to the questions, Ochieng said that they did not have the list and all the information but asked for more time to file the list, on the question of struggling schools, he said that UDB deferred payment of loans by schools.
“This money was approved by parliament and the bank does not consider supporting the schools with it at the time when they were closed, then what was it use?” he asked.
Musasizi cautioned the bank not to deviate from the purpose of the stimulus package.
MPs like Jane Pacuto Avur, the Pakwach Woman MP, Charles Illukor and Kumi County MP also wondered why the bank has just a little info on the money. This forced the chairperson committee to send them back to gather information and appear again before the same committee on Wednesday next week.
Some members of the private sector informed this website that Covid stimulus packages could be for a selected few. According to John Kakungulu Walugembe, the executive director of the Federation of Small and Medium-size Enterprises Uganda, the stimulus package is likely to be for only those having connections with big political figures.
He also claims that the money has been given to few selected people leaving out the intended genuine beneficiaries.
“The stimulus package should have benefited all businesses hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, the money provided by government only benefitted a few businesses that are well connected to the powerful people in government.”
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