Monday, 26 July 2010 10:12
Kingdom grapples with Shs 12bn debt
The Buganda Kingdom government is saddled with a Shs 12 billion debt almost 11 months after its main income earner, CBS radio was forced off air in a central government media clampdown.
Buganda Kingdom Treasurer Mukasa Nagawa announced last week that Mengo, the seat of Buganda government, is running a deficit budget.
Kingdom officials say an estimated Shs 31 million is lost everyday the radio continues to be off air.
Nagawa, reading the Shs 30 billion budget for the financial year 2010/2011 in the Buganda Lukiiko on July 20, said that the kingdom was promised Shs 9billion from the central government last financial year, but this was not disbursed.
She said the kingdom demands another Shs 21 billion from the government. But she assured the Lukiiko that the central government had shown willingness to pay in installments. The Shs 21 billion is owed by the Ministry of Defence at Makindye—Shs 170 million, Kigo prison rent arrears for 16 years (1993-2007)—Shs 18 billion, ground rent at Kigo—Shs 1 billion and building rent at the same prison, Shs 960 million.
This, she said, coupled with the closure of CBS, forced the kingdom to run its affairs on a 40% deficit budget—Shs 12 billion less. For example, in the financial year 2009/2010, Nagawa said the kingdom had planned a budget of Shs 19 billion but a clampdown on its major financial muscle—CBS left them with a meager Shs 7 billion.
Nagawa added that the closure of CBS further crippled one of the kingdom’s huge income-generating projects—sale of certificates.
“We cannot now air announcements calling on people to buy Buganda certificates,” she said.
The kingdom had expected to get Shs 347m from the sale of certificates before CBS was closed compared to the Shs 197m eventually realised.
Nagawa further explained that even the famous Kabaka Education Fund (KEF) has had to slash its intake, despite overwhelming numbers of applicants for bursaries or scholarships. The same problem has affected the Muteesa I Royal University, where Baganda students on Kabaka’s scholarship may drop out due to inadequate resources.
“The administrators of Muteesa I Royal University have already communicated to us problems related to Baganda students who have failed to pay tuition fees. This might retard the university,” she reported.
Nagawa, however, told the Lukiiko that the kingdom is determined to use its limited budget to elevate key pro-people sectors such as education, agriculture, construction of roads within the kingdom, promotion of youth projects, and creation of jobs for Baganda.
She also told the Lukiiko that the kingdom needs Shs10 billion for the reconstruction of the Royal Kasubi Tombs, a UNESCO-listed mausoleum of kings that was torched in March this year. The kingdom has only raised Shs 4 billion.
NO MORE TALKS
During the Lukiiko, the Katikkiro, Eng. JB Walusimbi told members that dialogue with the central government over reopening CBS broke down.
“On CBS we have tried talks [with central government] but we have failed and court will settle this. Let’s wait for court; talks have failed,” Walusimbi said.
Relations between Buganda and the President Museveni’s government reached an all-time low last September when the government blocked the Kabaka from visiting Kayunga, a district in his kingdom, resulting in bloody three-day riots.
At least 30 people were killed in the riots and several radio stations were closed, including Buganda’s CBS. Other stations were however re-opened shortly thereafter.
CBS staff have since gone to court, protesting the radio’s closure. Through Katende, Ssempebwa & Co. Advocates, they want court to declare the revocation of CBS radio’s licence “unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful, null and void”.
Recent reports had indicated that the President had agreed to re-open CBS at the urging of Amelia Kyambadde, his out-going Principal Private Secretary, who is eyeing a parliamentary seat in Buganda. However, sources have told The Observer that the formation of Ssuubi 2011, a Mengo-leaning political pressure group whose main goal is regime change, has now complicated matters.
According to political intelligence sources, if the radio were opened today, it would give momentum to Ssuubi 2011, which NRM says is likely to “confuse” its voters in Buganda.
Former Katikkiro, Joseph Mulwanyamuli Ssemwogerere is the patron of Ssuubi 2011.