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KASAIJA: No leadership gap, Bank of Uganda doing well

YET TO BE REPLACED: MUtebile: 1949-2022

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Government is satisfied with the performance of the Bank of Uganda under the leadership of the Deputy Governor Michael Atingi-Ego, finance minister Matia Kasaija has said.

Kasaija, in an interview with Uganda Radio Network, says Atingi-Ego is doing “a fantastic job” and that there’s no leadership vacuum relating to leadership many thought would emerge after the death of long serving Governor, Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile.

Mutebile, who headed the central bank for 20 years between 2001-2021, died in January this year at 72 years of age. He was celebrated as the longest-serving Governor since the establishment of the bank in 1966.

Almost eight months after his death, President Yoweri Museveni is yet to appoint his replacement, which has attracted criticism from the public and leaders in the country. Some blame the delay on the lack of a proper institutional transition plan.

Perez Godfrey Ahabwe, an economist, former Minister of Local Government, noted the President’s delay in the appointment of a substantive Governor, a key embodiment figure to steer the central bank, is a bad signal to the monetary policy of Uganda. Ahabwe explained that Mutebile was an outstanding economist under whose watch Uganda’s macroeconomic policies were laid down to streamline the management of money supply and interest rates to contain inflation, consumption, growth, and liquidity among others.

Equally, Joel Ssenyonyi, the Nakawa East Member of Parliament and Chairperson of the Commissions, Statutory Authority and State Enterprises – COSASE under which BoU falls, also described the absence of a substantive Governor as problematic for the stability of the economy.

Some of the names such as former Prime Minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi have been mentioned as potential replacements for Mutebile.

John Musila, the Bubulo East Member of Parliament, however, says that the President should not be rushed to appoint the Governor.

To Leonard Okello, a political scientist who doubles as the Executive Director of Uhuru Institute for Social Development, the delayed appointment of the Governor only exposes the cracks in the management of institutional transition in Uganda.

But Kasaija refutes this arguing that the President appointed Atingi-Ego who was consequently seconded and approved by Parliament to fill the vacuum that was created by the death of Mutebile.

Atingi-Ego is a Ugandan economist who was first appointed Deputy Governor in March 2020 to replace Dr. Louis Kasekende. Before taking up the deputy governor’s position, he had worked with Bank of Uganda, International Monetary Fund and the Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa, based in Harare Zimbabwe.

Mutebile’s signature still remains on the country’s banknotes that continue to circulate as legal tender. Bank of Uganda recently issued a statement reaffirming Mutebile’s signature, saying his demise will not affect the money in circulation.

The Bank of Uganda Act of 1966 stipulates that the Governor and Deputy Governor of the central bank shall be appointed by the President of Uganda with the consent of the Cabinet, and both shall be appointed for a period of five years and shall be eligible for reappointment.

However, the Act is silent on the period within which, in the event of death, the President can appoint the next Governor. For now, Ugandans will still have to wait for that to happen because only President Museveni has the ultimate answer.

A Central Bank Governor plays a key role in setting the monetary and regulatory policy, determining interest rates, maintaining price stability, controlling the national money supply and issuance and foreign exchange currency rates and gold reserves as well as overseeing and controlling the banking industry.

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