Four-time presidential candidate Col Dr. Kizza Besigye has joined the queue of critics to condemn the way the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is driving African countries into the deep ocean of debts.
While addressing journalists on Wednesday, Dr Besigye said that IMF is clearly now among those forces that want to see Uganda’s economy drowning in debts.
Dr. Besigye’s wary follows the confirmation by the Minister of Finance Planning and Economic Development Matia Kasaija on Wednesday that Uganda is to receive a loan of $1 billion (Shs3.5 trillion) to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic that has affected its economy massively.
The $1billion loan is the second one that Uganda is taking from IMF since the outbreak of Covid-19 in March last year. At first, Uganda borrowed over $491 million under the Rapid Credit Facility.
The latest borrowed money will be disbursed in a phased manner in a three-year period from 2021-2024 starting with $258billion.
“Government of Uganda requested emergency assistance from the IMF to respond to the effects of Covid-19 on our economy in the short and long term. Where the situation has reached now it’s beyond business as usual,” said Kasaija.
Although Kasaija alluded that government is very calculative while taking the loans, Dr. Besigye cautioned that the loans have increased Uganda’s debt burden which may affect the country’s development in the coming years.
The former President of the Forum for Democratic Change(FDC) also lashed out at IMF for widening Uganda’s debt burden deliberately without assessing the impact of such undertakings on the economy and the common man.
“The IMF has approved another loan of 1 billion dollars in the hands that have already mismanaged the past loans! Last year we almost borrowed $2billion. The IMF is clearly part of the problems Uganda has now. It’s not part of the solution. Of course, we need money but it must think about the population who are going to pay it back.”
He added that there is no mechanism under which the common Ugandan who pays taxes will have a positive impact on the huge loans the country is borrowing day by day. He however advised that government should first establish strong institutions that will monitor its funds to avoid cases of embezzlement and non-performing loans.
“Anybody who wants to give us money thank you very much for kindness but no money should come until our act is in place and institutional frame work that can manage out resources in an accountable way,” Besigye advised.
Jane Nalunga the Executive Director of the Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) Uganda also asked IMF not only to depend on the idea of transparency while lending money to African economies but must also consider the issue of accountability.
“The IMF should also be a responsible lender, let them demand accountability of the money they lend. They must also demand that those who misused the money be brought to book and force the government to put up measures to ensure that such issues of misusing funds are not repeated.”
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