Posts tagged as: association

Maize Flour Prices to Hit Sh120 as Subsidy Ends

By Gerald Andae

The cost of a two-kilogramme packet of maize flour is expected to rise by a third to Sh120 in November following the end four-month import subsidy and the government, setting the price at which it will buy the grain from farmers.

Millers say the cost of buying the grain is set to average Sh3,400 a 90-kg bag, forcing them to increase flour prices by Sh30 from the current Sh90.

“Obviously the cost will go above the current subsidy price to sell at an average Sh120 for a two-kilogramme packet. Our buying price will obviously be above what the government is buying at to attract stocks from farmers,” said a miller who requested anonymity for fear reprisals from the government.

This looks to put pressure on inflation, which fell to 7.06 per cent in September, from 8.04 per cent a month earlier, pushed by a fall in some food prices.

The staple has a big effect on the cost of living measure and food index, which has a 36.04 per cent weight in the goods used to calculate inflation.

Kenya on May 16 announced Sh6 billion subsidy on maize imports to help lower the cost of flour which had shot up due to drought and poor planning.

The subsidy lowered the price of a 90-kg bag of maize to Sh2,300 from above Sh4,000 with taxpayers offering importers a rebate or the difference of about Sh1,700.

This has kept the cost of the two-kg packet of flour at Sh90 from a high of Sh153 in April.

Record prices

The record prices turned into a political headache for President Uhuru Kenyatta as he sought a second term in the nullified August elections.

Nasa leader Raila Odinga has used the high cost of living to portray Mr Kenyatta’s government as inept and uncaring.

The subsidised flour prices was backed by a Kenya Gazette notice that criminalised the sale of the product above Sh90.

The Treasury will today end the subsidy with imports brought in recent days expected to steady the flow of Sh90 flour to the end of the month.

Millers will now revert to the market price of maize, which will influence by the purchase of the grain by the government to replenish the strategic reserves.

The government will buy a bag from farmers at Sh3, 200 in a Sh6.7 billion plan. Millers say the cost of getting the bag from the farmers to mills will rise to Sh3, 400 when transport costs are factored in.

The situation might worsen if government give in to pressure from farmers pushing for a higher price well aware of the bargaining power in an electioneering period.

Farmers claim the cost of production is higher and at Sh3,200 per bag they would be making losses on their produce.

“We had many challenges this year and farmers were forced to incur extra cost in controlling Fall Armyworms. We sent a letter to the Ministry of Agriculture two weeks ago showing them the cost of production, which was as high as Sh4,000 per bag in some areas,” said Anthony Kioko, chief executive officer Cereal Growers Association.

Kenya

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Nigeria:Bad Loans in 14 Banks Hit N177 Billion in 6 Months

By Peter Egwuatu

The economic recoveries witnessed in the first half of 2017 did not shield the banking sector from some adversities in the form of rising bad loans. Industry stakeholders have said that the impact is still being felt negatively as banks’ customers were not able to meet their financial obligations on loan repayment, resulting to 14 banks booking N177.3 billion impairment losses for the period.

The banks are: United Bank for Africa, UBA Plc, Fidelity Bank, Access Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC, Ecobank Group, Zenith Bank Plc, GTBank Plc, and Diamond Bank Plc. Others are, Sterling Bank Plc, FCMB Plc, Wema Bank Plc, Union Bank Plc, FBN Holding Plc, and Unity Bank Plc.

However, the growth rate appeared less agitating at 3.6 per cent from N171.243 billion in the corresponding period of 2016, when compared to the net interest income of the 14 banks which stood at N797.567 billion, representing a growth of 28.7 per cent from N619.517 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2016.

Financial Vanguard review of the banks’ performance with regard to the impairment losses and the interest income showed that the 14 banks recorded credit losses of 22.2 per cent of the net income realised in the period under review. Ecobank Group recorded the highest impairment losses of over N40 billion, while Zenith Bank recorded the highest income in the six months period.

Further analysis showed that First Bank recorded no impairment loss with low interest income, while Fidelity Bank recorded the least impairment loss of N4.81 billion.

Meanwhile, top five banks on impairment losses for the period under review showed that Ecobank recorded N49.016billion representing a growth of 54.3 per cent from N31.764 billion in the corresponding period of 2016; it was followed by Zenith Bank with N34.512 billion, showing a growth of 196 per cent. Diamond Bank recorded N20.312 billion, representing a growth of 6.9 per cent from N18.998 billion, followed by Stanbic IBTC, which recorded N13.953 billion, representing a growth of 65.1 per cent and Unity Bank recorded N11.227 billion, showing a drop of 37 per cent from N17.833 billion in 2016.

The top five banks on net interest income for the six months period ended June 30, 2017 showed that Zenith Bank recorded N144.165 billion, representing a growth of 48.3 per cent from N97.231 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 20116; it was followed by Ecobank recording N142.739 billion, showing an increase 18.8 per cent from N120.109 billion in 2016, UBA recorded N101.379 billion, representing a growth of 58.1 per cent from N64.132 billion.

Access Bank followed on the chart with N83.042 billion, showing a growth of 21.3 per cent from N68.451billion and GTBANK recorded N63.408 billion, indicating a growth of 65.5 per cent from N38.321billion.

Stakeholders’ reactions

In his reaction to the rise in loan losses, Managing Director, High Cap Securities Limited, Mr. David Adonri, said: “Non Performing Loans, NPL are mounting because borrowers are yet to recover from the economic crisis. Interest income for most banks is mainly from public sector lending which is at high interest rate. For 14 banks to suffer such impairment, it means that there is danger looming.”

The spokesperson for Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr. Moses Igbrude said: “The implication of increase in loan losses provision is that these banks’ customers default in loan repayment is on the increase, which invariably will lead to low or no returns to the shareholders at the end of the financial year. It is a sign that the loan facilities given are not performing and it has a grave consequence on the banking industry, which means danger looming in the sector.

“Managements should device ways of monitoring all processes of giving out loans. Government should try to improve the economy by diversify the economy away from oil. They should provide a favourable forex market. Government policies should be consistent with what they preach. They should focus on local production, especially agriculture so that Nigeria can feed itself as a nation. Government should encourage export by paying for the EEG (Export Expansion Grant) as they promised the exporters. They should pay local contractors. Also federal and state governments should pay their workers regularly. This will jump-start the economy and raise the purchasing power of the people. Then the NPL will reduce and banks impairment losses will reduce.

In his comment, former National Publicity Secretary of Nigeria Shareholders Solidarity Association, NSSA, Alhaji Gbadebo Olatokunbo, said: “The reasons for these NPL is well known. Some of the NPL comes from loans to telecommunication/oil companies and others, while most of the companies if not all were performing.

“But we also know that the regulatory agencies would force them to make provisions. So both the banks and their debtors are going-concerns; Therefore, there is no cause for alarm as the capital would be recovered either now or later.

“The implication of these is that investors should brace up for the results of a bad economy, although, investors invest in the market for a long term, and don’t forget that the banks are making cool profits in other areas of their operations and some if not many banks will still deliver but not as much as expected. This means that we may have good dividends, but not bumper-harvest-dividends

“We should note that Nigeria just got out of recession and inflation is a by-product of bad economy. It will take some time to fix and improve bad economy and as it improves, then inflation would be tamed. One very bad attitude of we Nigerians is that we so much believed in miracles, which doesn’t work with the economy. Economic policies must be well formulated and executed to impact on banks performance.

“We’ve been down economically and so government must follow the due process, with serious improvement in the implementation of good policies in order to achieve a good result and it will take some time to get the economy back on track and never through miracles; while the citizen must be seen to be supporting the economic recovery agenda.”

Impairment losses

Mr. Oderinde Taiwo, National Coordinator, Proactive Shareholder Association of Nigeria, PROSAN, said: “It is really not good for the banking sector as impairment losses is on the increase. It is an indication that banks’ customers are not honouring their promises which could be linked to liquidity problem. Government need to inject money into the economy to improve business activities.

“The implication to stakeholders in these banks is that it will affect the bottom line at the end of the financial year and invariably affect return on investment. Shareholders should not expect higher divided except if some of these NPLs are recovered.”

Zimbabwe: Fertiliser Crisis Looms

By Tinashe Kairiza

Zimbabwe is facing a serious fertiliser shortage, amid revelations that an additional US$60 million is required for importation of raw materials to manufacture adequate stocks outside the US$56 million the country recently secured through an arrangement with the African Import and Export Bank (Afreximbank), an industry representative has revealed.

Last week, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe announced that it had negotiated for a US$156 million loan facility with Afreximbank to import fertiliser among other key commodities before this summer cropping season gathers momentum. But the Afreximbank support facility is not adequate to meet local fertiliser demand.

Battling an acute foreign currency shortage and mounting economic challenges, the country has perennially struggled to mobilise sufficient financial resources for importation of adequate fertiliser for its farmers.

Zimbabwe requires an estimated 400 000 tonnes of fertiliser for a successful summer cropping season.

Zimbabwe Fertiliser Manufacturers’ Association chairperson Alvin Mashingaidze said, as a production cost-cutting measure, and in light of the prevailing liquidity crunch, the industry would import raw materials and manufacture locally.

The association is constituted by firms such as Windmill, Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company, Omnia and Sable Chemical.

Most of the companies are struggling to mobilise sufficient foreign currency required to import raw materials.

“The truth is that we are not getting enough foreign currency to import raw materials. For the production of 400 000 tonnes, the country requires about US$120 million. So, we still require US$60 million to meet that demand,” he said, noting that the industry was targeting to mobilise the outstanding resources within the next month to avert fertiliser shortages.

The fertiliser industry, Mashingaidze said, was sitting on stocks estimated at about 100 000 tonnes. “At the moment the industry is sitting on 100 000 tonnes of fertiliser. An additional 100 000 tonnes has been distributed in the market already,” he said.

“We only have about a month to mobilise resources to meet fertiliser demand through the importation of raw materials.”

Over the last nine months, Mashingaidze said fertiliser manufacturing firms had significantly increased their production capacity by setting up new blending plants.

In the last two years, fresh capital investments have been made into additional blending plants which have increased Zimbabwe’s capacity to manufacture fertilisers to about 1,2 million tonnes, depending on the availability of raw materials.

However, fears are mounting that without the much-needed raw materials, the blending plants would turn into white elephants.

“Most companies have set up several blending plants to increase production of NPK and basal fertiliser demand. All you need are the raw materials,” Mashingaidze said.

As part of preparations for this summer cropping season, the central bank has been allocating foreign currency to fertiliser manufacturing firms for the importation of raw materials.

Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union executive director Paul Zakariya also expressed fears that the country could face fertiliser shortages, derailing the success of the summer cropping season.

He, however, said seed manufacturing companies had sufficient stocks to meet demand. “In terms of seed, the companies have adequate seed to meet demand. They have more than enough. The only hitch will be on fertilisers, even last year we had some challenges with top dressing fertilisers around December,” Mashingaidze said.

“It is on the top dressing that we have a problem.”

Over the years, Zimbabwe’s crop output has sharply declined due to fertiliser shortages, among other challenges.

Mauritius:Minister Husnoo Lauds Key Role of Nurses in Health Services

press release

In a constantly changing health environment, training and capacity-building programmes of nurses are fundamental to enhance the health sector as they play a key role in delivering quality health services.

The Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Dr Anwar Husnoo, made this statement at the graduation ceremony of some 84 health personnel who have successfully completed a training programme on Leadership for Change (LFC). The ceremony was held on 11 October in presence of the Vice-President of the Republic of Mauritius, Mr Paramasivum Pillay Vyapoory, and other eminent personalities at the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre, Bell Village.

In his address, Dr Husnoo highlighted that nurses are the backbone of the health sector and are always at the frontline of medical services. Nursing, he added, is an art which demands compassion and an infallible knowledge of the human body. Speaking of outbreaks of epidemics and infectious diseases, he pointed out that nurses have to be proactive in decision-making.

Minister Husnoo called upon the nurses to perform their duties efficiently as care providers to patients. In this respect, he emphasised that it is essential to equip nurses with core leadership values such as customer care, good communication skills and effective management.

For his part, the Vice-President of the Republic, Mr Paramasivum Pillay Vyapoory, pointed out that nursing is a noble job which deserves due recognition and respect as nurses are engaged daily in ensuring the good health of the population. The workforce of the health sector should be empowered through proper training and education in order to overcome the emerging challenges, he further stated.

Leadership for Change programme

The 84 graduates followed the Leadership for Change programme from October 2015 to October 2016 during which they were required to design pilot research projects to test the feasibility of acquired skills and knowledge. The cohort of graduates comprised Senior Nurses, Charge Nurses and Ward Managers.

The programme was first launched by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) in 1996. The aim is to strengthen leadership skills among nurses and to broaden the positive impacts of nursing on health systems. The Mauritius Nursing Association, being a member of the ICN, initiated the LFC programme in 2006 with a cohort of 35 nurses.

Mauritius

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Nigeria: Iata-WCO Collaboration to Improve Air Cargo

By Chinedu Eze

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the World Customs Organisation (WCO) announced that IATA’s Cargo-XML messaging standard has been fully integrated into WCO’s Cargo Targeting System (WCO CTS), a risk assessment tool available to WCO member countries worldwide.

The integration of Cargo-XML in the WCO CTS enables electronic communication between airlines and customs authorities using the IATA Cargo-XML standards format. This will make communication simpler and more effective, and facilitate more accurate risk assessments by customs authorities using the WCO CTS application to capture advance electronic cargo manifest information.

Speaking on the development, Director General/ CEO of IATA, Alexandre de Juniac said: “Simplifying processes, enhancing efficiency, and maximising safety and security are in everybody’s interest-shippers, border authorities and airlines. Collaboration is critical. And the integration of Cargo-XML into WCO CTS is the latest example of the positive results that can be achieved. About a third of the value of goods traded across borders are transported by air. We look forward to the further expansion of our vital work with the WCO in support of efficient world trade.”

Also speaking, Secretary General, WCO Kunio Mikuriya said: “Effective electronic data exchange is integral for Customs authorities to build accurate risk assessments of cargo shipments. Integrating Cargo-XML into the WCO CTS will allow customs authorities using this tool to easily access detailed information about shipments, profile these shipments and identify those presenting a high-risk. Using standardized and quality information is key to enhancing security, expedite customs clearance, optimize customs resources and facilitate global trade.” IATA’s Cargo-XML eliminates the constraints posed by the traditional Cargo Interchange Message Procedures (Cargo-IMP) standard and is designed to promote broader and seamless data interfaces.

Cargo-XML is recognised as the universal language for improving e-commerce and therefore facilitates growth in trade and encourages participation in global commerce through electronic data submission for all air cargo shipments.

Nigeria

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Maize Farmers to Get Sh3,200 Per 90kg Bag, Says Ministry

By Gerald Andae

Grain farmers reacted sharply to the government’s announcement that it will buy maize at a price of Sh3,200 per bag of 90 kg this year, insisting that the amount was way below their expectation.

Agriculture secretary Willy Bett announced the price, which is six per cent more than last year’s when the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) paid Sh3,000 for similar quantity of maize.

Mr Bett said the government had set aside Sh7.1 billion to buy 2.4 million bags of maize to replenish the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) beginning next week.

“Based on the cost of production and in consideration of the farmers’ mark-up of 35 per cent (Sh790 per bag), the SFR Board has recommended that the producer price for a 90 kg bag of maize be Sh3,000,” he said.

Of the Sh3,200 that the government will pay, Sh200 is rebate to the growers for the extra cost incurred during planting.

“Owing to the adverse weather conditions coupled with other numerous challenges such as outbreak of Fall Armyworm during the period, the government has provided a rebate of Sh200 per 90 kg bag of maize offered to NCPB,” he added.

Egerton University-based think tank-Tegemeo Institute, however, faulted the price terming it high with very negative impact on consumer prices when the subsidy programme comes to an end this month.

“The new price is extremely high. The ideal cost of a 90 kilogramme bag of maize should be Sh2,700,” said Miltone Ayieko, a director at the institute.

Mr Bett’s announcement came only a week after Tegemeo released the findings of a study indicating that the cost of producing a 90 kilogramme bag of maize stood at Sh2,200 this year, meaning that farmers will make Sh1,000 for every bag sold to NCPB.

“After critical analysis and harmonisation of the cost of production reports from the Ministry of Agriculture and Tegemeo, the cost of producing a 90 kg bag of maize was determined to be Sh2,257,” Mr Bett said.

Farmers, through their lobby, the Cereal Growers Association (CGA), said they expected Sh3,500 for a 90 kg bag.

“We had many challenges this year and were forced to incur extra cost in controlling Fall Armyworms. We find the price of Sh3,200 to be low,” said Anthony Kioko, the chief executive officer CGA.

Mr Bett said a slight increase in production from 36.9 million bags last year to 37.9 million this year is expected.

That finding is in stark opposition to the July announcement that maize production would drop to 32 million bags this year.

Kenya faced a serious shortage of grain this year that pushed up the cost of maize flour to a record high of Sh153 per 2-kilo packet, and forced the government to intervene through a subsidy programme that lowered the price to Sh90 per 2 kilogramme packet.

Mr Bett said the government was watching the market keenly before exiting from the subsidy programme at the end of the month.

“The government is avoiding a situation where the subsidy will be stopped only for the cost of flour to retail above Sh90, we will not allow that, even if it means that we continue with the programme, we shall do that,” he said.

What Ugandans Think About Doctors’ Demands, Strike

By Clare Muhindo and Emmanuel Ainebyoona

As Uganda celebrated 55 years of independence early this week, medical doctors under their umbrella body Uganda Medical Association (UMA), voted to lay down their tools at all public hospitals at the beginning of November 2017 if government does not respond to their demands.

Doctors among other things, demand enhanced salaries and allowances, for overtime, housing, transport, medical risk and retention.

An intern doctor, currently earning a gross salary of Shs960, 000 will earn Shs8.5 million, if government endorses their demands.

They also want a medical officer or teaching assistant to be paid Shs15 million and accorded a two-bedroom house and a 2.5cc vehicle, while a senior consultant doctor or professor will be the highest paid health worker, with a gross salary of Shs48 million, a five-bedroom house, 4.0cc vehicle and three domestic workers.

Currently, a senior consultant doctor earns about Shs3.4 million, consultant Shs2.6m, and a medical officer Shs1.1 million.

Doctors also want salaries for nurses and midwives enhanced to about Shs6.5 million in addition to a three-bedroomed house, 2.0cc vehicle and one domestic worker.

This implies that at the beginning of next month, anyone walking into a public hospital at the beginning of next month, with a medical emergency will be headed for doom, stirring mixed reactions among social media users.

One person who goes by the names Roslands HC Sparrow, commenting on a post on the Daily Monitor Facebook page encouraged the health workers to strike, arguing that the government is dishing money to MPs.

“These doctors have staked their lives to treat people. Some even get infected by various diseases; they are over worked yet earn less. They should strike, that is when you will realize the importance of their work,” he said.

To Thadeous Hon, another follower of Monitor page, medical workers ought to set their own salaries.

“Parliament, KCCA, URA, the judiciary are setting their own salaries and are respected and I hope the medical workers do the same because the service commission failed it’s work and everything seems to be done by the President anyhow,” he said.

“Yeah they are right. Museveni wastes money on bribing the MPs and other cabinet Ministers, yet the relevant parts like doctors are left and isolated. He says Uganda is developed, let him prove it on doctors’ demand,” said Okech Benjamin.

“Let those who feel no pain laugh and ridicule the medical workers today but I’m sure at one point, they and or their loved ones will realise that the so called useless sector (health) was actually necessary, when they seek health service and never find it. I mean you can never know how useful something is until you lose it,” said Nelso Neli.

Ssekimpi John said: “Today, I will support doctors, not because it’s necessary to increase but because of failed system. You can’t have a S. 6 dropout earning 30m a month.”

“All our experts have left to abroad for a better pay, yet people are dying here because of lack of doctors to attend to them in time. I support the doctors; actually they took long to strike. Something should have been done a long time ago. I urge all other health workers to join the fight, such that a louder voice is made,” said Jackieline Joloba Mwesigwa.

“Doctors deserve a good pay. A lot is paid to these puppet Museveni MPs in form of bribes such as the Shs20m for age limit consultation. How do you explain there is no money? Let doctors force this government to realize we have more pressing issues than amending article 102,” said Jabi Edward

“Uganda has money but doesn’t spend it on the basic needs equally. Imagine a member of parliament earning 400k a day, which a nurse and primary teacher earn in a month. Life is very important and it needs to be prioritized. So I support our doctors,” Mutai Joap Arapkirenyi.

Akahumuza Goliyasi said “I think they are very right because when you look at how money is being wasted on NRM motives that don’t benefit. You really sympathize with these medical people after looking at these meager fingers of income at the expense of lives of Ugandans!”

Though doctors deserve better pay and decent accommodation, Nsubuga Eric, while reacting to a post on the Daily Monitor Facebook page said their demands are unrealistic as per the current state of Uganda’s economy.

“Am very sure even a half of this cannot be given to the doctors. Let their demands be moderate. My view is that the government must look into all salaries of civil servants and raise them by equal amounts, and then if it is 1 or 100% it should cut across. There is no big servant than the other,” Charles Muhumuza commented on the same post.

Gil M Phelps said; “have they found the cure for HIV, for them to demand “elephant” perks? These demands are too much. They should be considerate for their strikes to be relevant.”

“Let them resign and we see if there is any private hospital that will pay them just like the government. Had I been the minister, I would have given them a deadline to report to work. They are the most corrupt people. They can never treat a patient unless they are bribed,” said Sekalye Abdulla.

Kisakye Micheal said; “Trust me with the bleeding economy, even if we pay you 1 billion… Just demand for an economy that works for everyone, no corruption etc..

How come the pioneers in the medical field lived a happier life with an average salary and a house?”

Although we want Ugandan doctors’ salaries to be raised as soon as possible, Denis Banturaki said “this stupidity of demanding all that money and requirements as if they are the only ones educated is not going to help them. In fact we want them helped but they must be realistic.”

Ogwal Morrison said, “The demands by Doctors are unrealistic. How can an intern doctor be paid Shs8.5m? Much as I support that their salary be increased, I would think the lowest paid nurses and midwives should get like Shs2m. That is very reasonable.”

Although doctors are doing commendable work for this nation, Kateyenge Sam also said the demands are very impossible.

“If put in percentage I don’t know what percentage their demand will be. Maybe they can claim for a good salary but not all those. Think twice our doctors,” he said.

Doctors justify demands

When contacted by Daily Monitor, Dr Mukuzi Muhereza, the UMA secretary general, said their demands did not fall from heaven, and that they had made a comparison with all other government Ministries, agencies and departments.

For instance, Dr Muhereza said the General Manager of the National Medical Stores earns about Shs35 million, which is the same range they are asking for a senior consultant.

“A senior Consultant doctor is an equivalent to a High Court judge and they are all appointed by the President,” he said.

Prof Francis Omaswa, a senior consultant doctor and former director general health services at the Ministry Health said that the doctors’ demands are not “outrageous but set grounds for negotiations which the Ministry of Health should respond.”

“It’s true that the Director General Health Services used to be the highest paid civil servant and it’s also true that an appointment letter for senior consultants spells out benefits like chauffeur driven car, housing and domestic workers but are never made available,” Prof Omaswa said.

Uganda: What Ugandans Think About Doctors’ Demands, Strike

By Clare Muhindo and Emmanuel Ainebyoona

As Uganda celebrated 55 years of independence early this week, medical doctors under their umbrella body Uganda Medical Association (UMA), voted to lay down their tools at all public hospitals at the beginning of November 2017 if government does not respond to their demands.

Doctors among other things, demand enhanced salaries and allowances, for overtime, housing, transport, medical risk and retention.

An intern doctor, currently earning a gross salary of Shs960, 000 will earn Shs8.5 million, if government endorses their demands.

They also want a medical officer or teaching assistant to be paid Shs15 million and accorded a two-bedroom house and a 2.5cc vehicle, while a senior consultant doctor or professor will be the highest paid health worker, with a gross salary of Shs48 million, a five-bedroom house, 4.0cc vehicle and three domestic workers.

Currently, a senior consultant doctor earns about Shs3.4 million, consultant Shs2.6m, and a medical officer Shs1.1 million.

Doctors also want salaries for nurses and midwives enhanced to about Shs6.5 million in addition to a three-bedroomed house, 2.0cc vehicle and one domestic worker.

This implies that at the beginning of next month, anyone walking into a public hospital at the beginning of next month, with a medical emergency will be headed for doom, stirring mixed reactions among social media users.

One person who goes by the names Roslands HC Sparrow, commenting on a post on the Daily Monitor Facebook page encouraged the health workers to strike, arguing that the government is dishing money to MPs.

“These doctors have staked their lives to treat people. Some even get infected by various diseases; they are over worked yet earn less. They should strike, that is when you will realize the importance of their work,” he said.

To Thadeous Hon, another follower of Monitor page, medical workers ought to set their own salaries.

“Parliament, KCCA, URA, the judiciary are setting their own salaries and are respected and I hope the medical workers do the same because the service commission failed it’s work and everything seems to be done by the President anyhow,” he said.

“Yeah they are right. Museveni wastes money on bribing the MPs and other cabinet Ministers, yet the relevant parts like doctors are left and isolated. He says Uganda is developed, let him prove it on doctors’ demand,” said Okech Benjamin.

“Let those who feel no pain laugh and ridicule the medical workers today but I’m sure at one point, they and or their loved ones will realise that the so called useless sector (health) was actually necessary, when they seek health service and never find it. I mean you can never know how useful something is until you lose it,” said Nelso Neli.

Ssekimpi John said: “Today, I will support doctors, not because it’s necessary to increase but because of failed system. You can’t have a S. 6 dropout earning 30m a month.”

“All our experts have left to abroad for a better pay, yet people are dying here because of lack of doctors to attend to them in time. I support the doctors; actually they took long to strike. Something should have been done a long time ago. I urge all other health workers to join the fight, such that a louder voice is made,” said Jackieline Joloba Mwesigwa.

“Doctors deserve a good pay. A lot is paid to these puppet Museveni MPs in form of bribes such as the Shs20m for age limit consultation. How do you explain there is no money? Let doctors force this government to realize we have more pressing issues than amending article 102,” said Jabi Edward

“Uganda has money but doesn’t spend it on the basic needs equally. Imagine a member of parliament earning 400k a day, which a nurse and primary teacher earn in a month. Life is very important and it needs to be prioritized. So I support our doctors,” Mutai Joap Arapkirenyi.

Akahumuza Goliyasi said “I think they are very right because when you look at how money is being wasted on NRM motives that don’t benefit. You really sympathize with these medical people after looking at these meager fingers of income at the expense of lives of Ugandans!”

Though doctors deserve better pay and decent accommodation, Nsubuga Eric, while reacting to a post on the Daily Monitor Facebook page said their demands are unrealistic as per the current state of Uganda’s economy.

“Am very sure even a half of this cannot be given to the doctors. Let their demands be moderate. My view is that the government must look into all salaries of civil servants and raise them by equal amounts, and then if it is 1 or 100% it should cut across. There is no big servant than the other,” Charles Muhumuza commented on the same post.

Gil M Phelps said; “have they found the cure for HIV, for them to demand “elephant” perks? These demands are too much. They should be considerate for their strikes to be relevant.”

“Let them resign and we see if there is any private hospital that will pay them just like the government. Had I been the minister, I would have given them a deadline to report to work. They are the most corrupt people. They can never treat a patient unless they are bribed,” said Sekalye Abdulla.

Kisakye Micheal said; “Trust me with the bleeding economy, even if we pay you 1 billion… Just demand for an economy that works for everyone, no corruption etc..

How come the pioneers in the medical field lived a happier life with an average salary and a house?”

Although we want Ugandan doctors’ salaries to be raised as soon as possible, Denis Banturaki said “this stupidity of demanding all that money and requirements as if they are the only ones educated is not going to help them. In fact we want them helped but they must be realistic.”

Ogwal Morrison said, “The demands by Doctors are unrealistic. How can an intern doctor be paid Shs8.5m? Much as I support that their salary be increased, I would think the lowest paid nurses and midwives should get like Shs2m. That is very reasonable.”

Although doctors are doing commendable work for this nation, Kateyenge Sam also said the demands are very impossible.

“If put in percentage I don’t know what percentage their demand will be. Maybe they can claim for a good salary but not all those. Think twice our doctors,” he said.

Doctors justify demands

When contacted by Daily Monitor, Dr Mukuzi Muhereza, the UMA secretary general, said their demands did not fall from heaven, and that they had made a comparison with all other government Ministries, agencies and departments.

For instance, Dr Muhereza said the General Manager of the National Medical Stores earns about Shs35 million, which is the same range they are asking for a senior consultant.

“A senior Consultant doctor is an equivalent to a High Court judge and they are all appointed by the President,” he said.

Prof Francis Omaswa, a senior consultant doctor and former director general health services at the Ministry Health said that the doctors’ demands are not “outrageous but set grounds for negotiations which the Ministry of Health should respond.”

“It’s true that the Director General Health Services used to be the highest paid civil servant and it’s also true that an appointment letter for senior consultants spells out benefits like chauffeur driven car, housing and domestic workers but are never made available,” Prof Omaswa said.

Kenya:Tea Firms Wage Bill ‘To Hit’ 54%

By Gerald Andae

Tea multinationals say wages could account for over half their cost after trade unions issued a seven-day strike notice to force implementation of a 30 per cent salary rise awarded by court in 2014.

The Kenya Agricultural and Plantation Workers’ Union (KAPWU) says tea workers will down tools on October 17 paralysing activities at the international firms, which account for 40 per cent of tea produced in the country.

“By increasing the wages by 30 per cent, then it means the wage bill of these companies will go up to 54 per cent; this will obviously subject us to losses,” said Apollo Kiarii, Kenya Tea Growers Association (KTGA) chief executive officer.

Mr Kiarii says the move by KAPWU is ill timed and will affect the growers at a time the sector is trying to recover from losses occasioned by drought.

KAPWU secretary-general Francis Atwoli says plantations have refused to honour the directive reached by Labour Court and frustrated talks on the matter.

“Since 2014, tea workers have seen no wage increases apart from the 15 per cent that the employer decided to award, even though the court had ordered 30 per cent, we want that court ruling to be fully implemented failure to which the strike starts on October 17,” said Mt Atwoli.

Mr Kiarii also noted that the matter is still in Court of Appeal, saying it is wrong for the union to call for a strike before a ruling is made.

“We are waiting for the ruling of the court anytime from now and the union should suspend the strike until the ruling is made,” he said.

KTGA successfully appealed the ruling of the Labour Court last year stalling the wage increase following a stay order.

Kenya

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Malawi: ICTAM Pushing for Low Internet Rates in Malawi

By Sellah Singini -Mana

Information Communications Technology Association of Malawi (ICTAM) says it is pushing for innovative ways of making internet charges go down.

Speaking in an interview on Friday during the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Innovations Awards held in Mangochi, ICTAM President, Wisely Phiri said the use of local content on the Internet could help lower Internet charges in the country unlike the case at hand.

“Internet has become a basic need and we have come to a point where when planning the construction of a house, we should consider the installation of the Internet in addition to water and electricity,” he suggested.

Phiri cited that the Internet is ones right to access information even for people who live below the poverty line because through access to important communication, people could make informed choices that can later uplift their lives.

The ICTAM President added that they have achieved a lot in lobbying for advancement of ICT in the country and that some of the achievements included the establishment of the Communications Act.

He said ICTAM is currently pushing for the broadband policy where construction of houses should include internet adding that more people connected to the internet would translate to lower rates of internet.

ICT guru, Dr. Paulos Nyirenda, who scooped the Life Time Achiever Award for his ICT innovations over the decades saying low internet charges were crucial for the country’s development.

“We need institutions where we can train more people, we need introduction of ICT in technical colleges, we need to see more young people coming online, and some of the innovations can come from the technical colleges that we are building,” he narrated.

Malawi

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