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Uganda rejects World Bank’s dubious loan

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Uganda rejects World Bank’s dubious loan

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija addressing journalists at his Ministry on Thursday

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija addressing journalists at his Ministry on Thursday

The government has politely rejected the world bank’s offer of lending us some US$40 million (Approximately UGX144bn) for seminars and sensitization activities aimed at addressing gender-based violence.

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija told journalists that the World Bank dangled the loan to Uganda as a way of ‘cleansing’ the country of its stained image as a place where gender-based violence is rampant. He said that he didn’t agree with the reasons behind the ‘offer’ and took the case to cabinet for further discussion, which has politely turned it down and chosen to direct the minister to re-negotiate the terms of the loan.

Kasaija said the loan was triggered by incidents of defilement that happened in 2014 when the World Bank’s supported Fort Portal-Kamwenge road ended with a number of girls in the area getting impregnated by construction workers. Some of the girls were allegedly under-age girls. Following publication of a report from an investigation by an NGO Joy for Children, the World Bank suspended the loan for the project as well as two other loans for the Tororo-Mbale-Soroti road as well as the Kyenjojo road.

Following the suspension, Minister Kasaija said: “When this matter came to my table I called the World Bank and asked why we should borrow for seminars. But the World Bank’s representative told me if you don’t take this loan, we don’t think we shall be able to convince the bank to give you more money for infrastructure projects,”

“Last Monday, I took the matter, half hearted to Cabinet to discuss it. Cabinet has directed me to go back to World Bank and renegotiate this loan,” Kasaija said, adding that: “Last Monday I took this matter to Cabinet and we discussed it. Many of my cabinet colleagues argued and presented evidence that the long-lasting solution to gender-based violence is education rather than seminars.”

“We need to invest in building schools especially in those areas where gender-based violence is rampant so that you raise a generation that respects the and rights and dignity of women,” said Kasaija.

The manner in which the World Bank goes about lending money to countries that are already deep in debt, is likely to stir emotions against the institution at a time the country is suffering under the burden of loan repayments. Data shows that the world bank is already Uganda’s biggest creditor according to economists from the central bank.

The rate at which the government is acquiring loans has been in the public domain with many blaming public officials of being insensitive to future generations that will bear the heaviest burden of repaying the loans.

Some Members of Parliament sitting on the budget committee in a debate about the debt crisis held last year also hinted that some public officials connive with the lenders to take up loans in return for bribes.

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