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CSOs challenge World Bank on portfolio performance in Uganda

CSOs address the press in Kampala. Picture Caption(L-R) Evas Kanyesigye, Julius Kapwepwe,Arthur Larok, Cissy Kagaba and Sarah Pacutho
CSOs address the press in Kampala. (L-R) Evas Kanyesigye, Julius Kapwepwe,Arthur Larok, Cissy Kagaba and Sarah Pacutho

Civil Society Organisations (CSO) have petitioned the World Bank over its poor portfolio performance in Uganda.

CSOs Uganda Debt Network, Anti-Corruption Coalition, Action Aid Uganda and Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group said, the information and data available indicates that as of April 2016, both the World Bank and Uganda are not as open about its portfolio performance which is said to be at only 20%.

Aurther Larok the Action Aid Uganda Country Director said, “We believe that the World Bank has a responsibility to openly and transparently share the difficulties in the execution of projects that the government of Uganda has negotiated and contracted on behalf of the citizens of Uganda.”

World Bank Uganda’s portfolio included seventeen national active operations worth $2.1 billion commitment, five of which are regional operations with a $182 million commitment – with three set to close at end of this year.

While two of the portfolio involve two fully integrated global environment facility interventions for a commitment of $1.79 billion and an $ 100 million global partnership for education aimed at improving teacher and school effectiveness in the primary education system, both the World Bank and government of Uganda are not open as it should be.

The Civil Society petition to the World Bank comes after the Central bank in June revealed how Uganda`s public debt stock including commitments in nominal value stood at Shs 46.1 trillion. This implies that each of Uganda`s 34.9million people including children was indebted to the tune of Shs 1,332,369 or $395 at current market prices.  (1US$= Uganda shilling 3383.75)

“The World Bank is like any other bank and whatever money they give Uganda as a country we will eventually have to pay it back. This should concern all Ugandans that the money that government borrows on behalf of its citizens is appropriately used. We are concerned with such a poor performance because returns are not being generated,” said Action Aid’s Larok.

The bank was also faulted for not demonstrating sufficient will necessary to decisively deal with corruption that has become endemic threatening the execution of development projects and service delivery programmes in the country. Corruption aside another issue that was highlighted was the growing trend of single sourcing of contractors to construct development projects

Cissy Kagaba from CSBAG highlighted on the growing trend of single sourcing for contractors saying, “When you are single sourcing the presumption is that you don’t have any other agencies. Are we saying our local Ugandan companies cannot execute work? Again if you look at the projects that are being taken on through single sourcing, these are projects that have billions of monies and many have been awarded to Chinese companies.”

Julius Kapwepwe the director for programmes at Uganda debt Network said, “With single sourcing are higher risks of corruption and if you opened some of these projects internationally you wouldn’t end up with a Chinese company in all the major projects. The bit that the money comes from China does not hold because when the money comes to Uganda it becomes money for Uganda and it is the responsibility of Ugandan citizens to know about it and also later on to be able to pay back.”

 

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