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Your mail: Let’s abhor corruption like we do witchcraft

According to the 2017/18 budget framework paper released by the finance ministry, the health sector funding reduced by 30 per cent compared to the previous financial year.

At 6.1 per cent of the national budget, the new allocation of Shs 1.2 trillion falls far short of the 15 per cent prescribed by the Abuja Declaration. The health sector is central and closely linked to all others.

A sick population may not optimally engage in economic productivity; sick children cannot go to school; ailing parents cannot cater for their families and mortality and morbidity generally undermine the social economic wellbeing of society.

The current narrow tax base and available donor funds cumulatively cannot meet the gross annual budget needs. According to the June 2016 Bank of Uganda report, public debt stock stood at Shs 46.1 trillion by April 2016, which was about 52 per cent of our GDP.

This exceeds the 50 per cent threshold, meaning we are already entangled in a debt trap and will find it hard to pay both principal and interest accruing. So, we must cut the public service delivery coat according to our limited resource envelope cloth.

The onus lies with public officials (duty bearers) to maximise the little resources available optimally, with utmost transparency and accountability in the best interest of the citizens who pay tax and are ultimately responsible for debt repayment. But we have recurrently had cases of absenteeism, patient extortion by health workers for services meant to be free, theft of medical items and other forms of flouting standard operating procedures of public service.

For instance, recently in Pader district, a government health worker was netted in a private clinic selling medicines and medical supplies (including absorbent gauge rolls and Coartem) that were embossed: “Government of Uganda – Not for Sale”. Ironically, the clinic in the scandal was  called ‘Jesus Cares medical centre’.

In February 2017, four pharmacists working with Mbarara regional referral hospital were caught stealing HIV drugs. Examples abound and volunteer community monitors have severally exposed such cases, but the practice has not abated. It is quite frustrating that in many instances, the suspects are set free even when enough evidence has been provided. Hakuna Mchezo should cut across.

When netting middle-sized fish like minister Herbert Kabafunzaki, government should not leave small fish to swim with impunity. The widespread cases of such small thefts cumulatively amount to a big dent on the already-starved health sector, and the net loser is the common man who cannot afford to pay for the essential lifesaving health commodities.

If Ugandans could treat corruption the way they abhor witchcraft, and government anti-graft agencies played their part, corruption would soon be history in this country.

Gilbert Musinguzi,
Uganda Debt Network.

Ubteb committed to promoting skills development

We would like to thank Robert Atuhairwe for his opinion article in The Observer of April 19, 2017 titled “Give Ubteb exams results the deserved publicity.”

As the board, we truly appreciate media coverage and partnership in offering the necessary publicity in form of reporting on our activities and achievements. On release of examinations results, the board holds an advance press briefing and appears for live interviews during news segments on leading television stations.

The board continues to create awareness using various media platforms, including print, electronic and social media, as well as engaging with various media houses for continued media coverage of the board’s events. Ubteb truly appreciates the feedback from all esteemed stakeholders and continues seeking partnerships in line with its strategic plan.

Ubteb started operations in Uganda in 2011 with the mandate to streamline, regulate, coordinate and conduct credible national examinations and award certificates and diplomas in the business, technical, vocational and specialized professions in Uganda.

Its establishment represents a renewed focus by government and postulates a strategic pathway that emphasizes the need to realign Uganda’s training and assessment needs to the labour market demands.

The secretariat has put in place a comprehensive communication strategy. We believe this strategy has enabled the board to improve stakeholders’ understanding of Ubteb’s mandate.

Kambaho Narasi Anyijuka,
Ag. senior information and communication officer, Ubteb.

Be assured, God knows you

Jeremiah 1:5 says: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb, I sanctified you and ordained you prophet unto the nations.”

God was speaking to Prophet Jeremiah. But now that Jeremiah is gone and you are the one living today, God is telling you that He knows you regardless of the problems, challenges and obstacles that you are facing.

Trust God who knew you before you were born that he will take you through and you come as a conqueror. Challenges are inevitable and are an integral part of life but if you know that God knows you, you need not fear.

Jeremiah was ordained to be a prophet; this implies that you were also ordained to be something.

Herbert Ssekitto,
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Museveni is enemy of strong institutions

Much as we have institutions in Uganda, one is safe to say that they are dysfunctional and built on individuals rather than systems.

However, like the proverbial saying that the “fish rots from the head”, our president is entirely to blame for the crumbled state of many institutions.

Mr Museveni’s leadership is, for example, centered on himself, thus prompting some Ugandans to think he is the alpha and omega of this country. This has, therefore, trickled down to other institutions like ministries, agencies and departments where those at the helm vividly claim they don’t have power, for it is all vested in the hands of the president.

For instance, many Ugandans developed mixed feelings about Minister Herbert Kabafunzaki’s corruption scam, after the chairman of Aya group, Mohammed Hamid, claimed to have personally contacted the president who later ordered for the arrest of the embattled state minister for labor, employment and industrial relations.

Although the gist of the matter was to expose this allegedly corrupt minister, my only fundamental concern was why the investor had to contact the person of the president. Aren’t there responsible institutions he could have contacted rather than the president?

Badru Walusansa,
Commonwealth correspondent.

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