Posts tagged as: bureau

August Inflation Drops in Uganda, Rises in Kenya

By Maryanne Gicobi

Uganda recorded a drop in headline inflation in August due to a fall in food prices.

Kenya, on the other hand, saw a rise during the same month, driven by an increase in food prices occasioned by depressed rains and low supplies.

According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the country’s year-on-year inflation edged down to 5.2 per cent in August from 5.7 per cent the previous month.

In Kenya, inflation increased to 8.04 per cent in August from 7.47 per cent in July attributed to an increase in the food and non-alcoholic drinks index.

Inflation in July 2017 had returned to the Central Bank’s desired band of 2.5 per cent either side of the five per cent target — at 7.47 per cent.

This was driven by a reduction in food prices including a range of fresh produce as well as cheaper sugar, milk and maize flour relatively to June 2017.

Energy prices also fell over the same period with kerosene, electricity and fuel becoming more affordable.

Same lending rate

Uganda’s central bank maintained its benchmark lending rate at 10 per cent in August, saying that while economic activity was picking up, inflation remained on course for its medium-term target of 5 per cent.

Uganda Bureau of Statistics said prices had declined mainly for fruits while core inflation was driven down by a slower rise in the prices of services without elaborating.

In the basket of goods used to calculate inflation, food takes up the largest share — 36 per cent — making it the main driver of the cost of living, followed by utilities such as rent, water, electricity, gas and fuels at 18 per cent.

In Tanzania’s year-on-year inflation slowed to 5.2 per cent in July from 5.4 per cent a month earlier, largely due to slower rises in food prices of cereals, fish, beans .

Rwanda’s inflation fell to 3.5 per cent year-on-year in July from 4.8 per cent a month earlier.

Uganda

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Zambia: Anti Corruption Body Spares Mulumbe in Maizegate Prosecution

By Green Muheya

Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) chief executive officer, Foster Mulumbe, stands cleared of any wrongdoing by the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) in relation to the Zambia maize imports saga, Nyasa Times understands.

ACB spokeswoman said all the graft busting body arrested all suspects in the ‘Maizegate’ scandal and that Mulumbe is not one of those found with any wrongdoing.

“The Bureau arrested suspects whom investigations had found evidence of wrongdoing. The case us currently in court for prosecution of the suspects,”Mdala said.

Mulumbe alongside former Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda were investigated by ACB over their involvement of the controversial $35 million procurement of maize from Zambia last year.

Chaponda was arrested alongside director of Transglobe Produce Limited Rashid Tayub and Grain Traders Association of Malawi chairperson Grace Mijiga Mhango. They are facing corruption charges.

Mulumbe and State produce trader’s director of operations Feckson Kantonga were investigated following recommendations of two commissions of inquiry–one hired by President Peter Mutharika and the other by Parliament–into the controversial Zambia maize imports.

A report presented by an inquiry chaired by retired Chief Justice Anastasia Msosa faulted Admarc for flouting approval rules and systems, thereby causing discrepancies.

While Admarc board indicated that the disciplinary committee found both Mulumbe and Kantonga in breach of Section 16 (e) of the Admarc conditions of service in addition to breaching Section 30 (11) of the Public Procurement Act as well as government policy on external travel reference number CS/S/001 of 2015.

Meanwhile, Admarc public relations manager Agness Ndovi has confirmed that Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF) director general James Chirwa visted the country to follow up on a payment of about K1 billion it owes them for supplying maize last year.

He was back in the country last week to chase the payment.

Zambia

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Ugandan Pilgrims – We Were Conned

By Zurah Nakabugo

Some Muslims who paid but failed to get visas to make the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, claim they were conned of $4,000 (Shs 14.5 million) each by some travel agents.

One of them, Hajjat Hanifah Nakalema, says she is still reeling from the shock of being told at the last minute by her agent that she couldn’t travel because the Saudi Arabian embassy in Kampala ran out of visas.

Nakalema, 65, said she got the bad news on August 18, as she dressed up to go to Entebbe International airport.

She said her tour guide for the Mecca trip, Sheikh Swalleh Mubiru, who happens to be the director of World Link Hijja group, returned her passport without a visa.

“We handed over our passports to Sheikh Mubiru to process our visas and take care of us in Mecca. But at the last hour, he returned our passports without visas. He said the embassy ran short of visas, which wasn’t true. We were over 10 people from his group who didn’t get visas yet we had paid the full amount and booked [flights] in advance to avoid inconveniences,” she explained.

Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and brings together Muslims from all nationalities. During pilgrimage, they get cleansed of sin and get closer to God, in line with the teachings of Prophet Muhammad that a person who performs a proper Hajj “will return as a newly born baby [free of all sins].”

Interviewed for this story on August 23, Sheikh Mubiru said he wasn’t to blame because he is just an agent for Fildausi Tours and Travel, which was responsible for processing visas.

“When we get clients who want to go for pilgrimage, we hand them over to Fildausi Tours and Travel to process visas.

Then Fildausi also hands over the passports to the Uganda Bureau of Hajj Affairs to collect visas from the Saudi Arabian embassy since it’s the only group in Uganda, which was licensed to do that work,” he said. Mubiru claimed he, too, was shocked to receive only 15 visas out of 20 applications.

SAUDI MISSION SPEAKS

However, the assistant accountant at the Saudi embassy, Abdul Hakim Nsambi, contradicted Mubiru’s account, saying the Saudi mission never stopped offering visas to pilgrims.

“There was no passport which was brought here and didn’t get a visa. We granted over 3,000 visas to Ugandans this year. Even some visas are still available here,” he said.

Nsambi said under a new Saudi Arabian policy, visas for pilgrims are channeled through the Uganda Bureau of Hajj Affairs.

“The policy doesn’t allow people to get visas personally from the embassy since they don’t want crowds at the embassy, as they used to be before. This is why a group of Muslims interested in taking people to Mecca came up with the Uganda Bureau of Hajj Affairs to collect visas from the embassy on their behalf,” Nsambi said.

He said since many Ugandans are still finding trouble using one organization to collect visas from the embassy, the mission is weighing the option of increasing the number of organizations collecting passports for visa processing.

Later, Mubiru apologised to all people from his group who missed visas. He said he will refund their money when he returns from Hajj.

Pilgrims are expected to return after Idi al-Adha on September 1. Muslims in the country have asked the Ugandan government to nudge Saudi Arabia to revise its policy that bars people from collecting visas personally at the embassy.

They say one agency can’t collect visas for all Muslims in the country.

Nail the Corrupt Now, Says President Magufuli

Photo: State House

President John Magufuli speaks to Prevention and Combatting of Corruption Bureau staff at the Bureau’s head offices in Dar es Salaam. From left are Director of Administration and Human Resources, Alex Mfungo and Director General, Valentino Mlowola.

President John Magufuli yesterday reiterated his directives to the anti-corruption agency to immediately take action when it has the evidence needed to move against corrupt individuals.

In a rare revelation, the Head of State said some eleven locomotives lying idle at the port of Dar es Salaam were imported without any written contract.

Dr Magufuli made the revelations after he made an impromptu visit at the Prevention and Combatting of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) head offices in Dar es Salaam, where he also expressed his confidence in the bureau in curbing graft and pledged to address challenges facing them.

“There are lots of imprudent things taking place because of graft. We conducted verification on farm input subsidies and found out that claims amounting to 48bn/- were fraudulently made … there were also 5,580 ghost students who were lined for loans to pursue higher education,” he said.

The president further cited 19,500 ghost workers in public service and 56,000 phantom poor households which were receiving funds from the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF), an initiative designed to support underprivileged families.

Although President Magufuli did not go into details in regard to the train engines, he is on record as tasking security organs to probe persons behind the ‘dumped’ train engines – from which the Tanzania Railway Limited (TRL) had since distanced itself.

This was last July when laying a foundation stone for the deepening and strengthening of the harbour. Reports show that the locomotives were offloaded from an ocean-going vessel, Mesina Line, but no one had since come out to declare ownership.

“I am even told that the engines are substandard and the railway authority does not need them … (in the first place),” Dr Magufuli revealed, adding: “It’s high time security at the port is beefed-up; if we allow this situation to continue next time we may let in ships with poison or military tanks.” At the same occasion, he had expressed concerns that the ship which brought the consignment had already left the port.

Speaking at the PCCB offices yesterday, President Magufuli urged the workers to embrace professionalism, patriotism and integrity in discharging their duties, pledging that the government would improve their working conditions.

Present during the meeting were the Minister of State in the President’s Office (Public Service Management and Good Governance), Ms Angella Kairuki and the Permanent Secretary (PS) in the office, Dr Laurian Ndumbaro, as well as the Director General of PCCB, Mr Valentino Mlowola.

Meanwhile, the Head of State has met and held meetings with experts and leaders undertaking major infrastructure projects in Tanzania including the Stieglers Gorge Hydropower Project, the Standard Gauge Railway and various road projects.

During the meeting, Deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals, Dr Medard Kalemani, informed President Magufuli that the initial preparations for Stieglers Gorge project were moving full throttle and that the first tender for the mega-project would be floated on August 30, this year.

Dr Magufuli has meanwhile revealed that funds for construction of the 2,100MW project had been secured.

Kenya, Tanzania Q1 Growth Slows Down

By Allan Olingo

East Africa’s two leading economies, Kenya and Tanzania, recorded a drop in growth in the first quarter of this year, due to a slowdown in manufacturing, agriculture and construction sectors.

Tanzania

The Tanzanian economy slowed down to 5.7 per cent between January and April, compared with 6.8 per cent over the same period last year. Kenya recorded 4.7 per cent growth in Quarter 1, down from 5.9 per cent in the same period of 2016.

Data from the Tanzania National Bureau of Statistics shows that the country’s construction sector slowed down to 8.4 per cent from 8.9 per cent a year ago, while growth in the transport sector almost halved — to 4.1 per cent from 7.9 per cent.

“During the period under review, mining and quarrying registered the highest growth rates of 35.3 per cent, followed by information and communications at 13.8 per cent. The surge in growth of the mining sector was as a result of increased production of gold, tanzanite, copper and coal,” the statistics agency said last week.

Tanzania is Africa’s fourth-largest gold producer and also has vast deposits of coal, uranium and gemstones.

But in recent months, it has clamped down on what it termed as exploitation of its minerals by mining firms, which saw the country’s largest gold miner Acacia slapped with a $190 billion tax bill.

The country also saw its agriculture sector slow down to 2.6 per cent, a 0.1 per cent drop from last year’s figures, due to poor weather.

Tanzania is hoping that its economy will grow by 0.1 per cent to 7.1 per cent this year from 7.0 per cent in 2016, still making it one of the fastest-growing in the region.

Kenya

Kenya on the other hand recorded its slowest growth in five years, blamed on poor weather and reduced lending by commercial banks.

“The quarter’s growth was negatively impacted by drought after the 2016 short rains failed and a delay in the onset of the 2017 long rain,” said the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

Data released by KNBS showed the country’s cement sub-sector is headed to record its first annual decline in 10 years. Cement consumption stood at 2.5 million tonnes in the five months to May compared with 2.56 million in the same period last year.

Cement manufactures also cut back on production to 3.18 million tonnes from 3.31 million tonnes.

“A fall in cement consumption is an indicator of a slow down in the construction sector, one of those affected by the decline in private sector credit growth,” said NIC Securities in its latest cement sector report.

The country’s agricultural sector shrunk by 1.1 per cent to $2.86 billion — the first in eight years. The country has experienced food shortage for the better part of the year forcing the government to look outside the country to replenish its food stocks.

The data also showed that the country’s private sector credit growth has shrank to 3.3 per cent from 17 per cent at the end of 2015, this coming after the October 2016 interest rate gap introduced, also amidst a tightening of regulation by the central bank.

The country’s manufacturing sector expanded faster in the first quarter compared with the corresponding period of 2016, recording a growth of 2.9 per cent compared with 1.7 per cent in 2016.

Uganda

In Uganda, the economy expanded 3.9 per cent in the fiscal year to the end of June, but it is below the forecast of 5.5 per cent as drought and a diminished private-sector credit curbed growth.

The Central Bank projects growth will climb to five per cent in 2017/18, supported by better implementation of public investment, higher foreign direct investment and a pick-up in private sector credit.

“We expect that the activity in the manufacturing and retail will rebound as access to credit improves over the course of the year. We also expect the government expenditure on public infrastructure projects to likely to support economic activity over the near to medium term,” said Jibran Qureishi, an economist with Stanbic Bank East Africa.

Nairobi, Dar to Hold Talks on Long Standing Trade Disputes

By Allan Olingo

Tensions between Kenya and Tanzania are set to ease after the two countries agreed to hold talks on the long standing trade dispute between them, leading to the signing of a pact on July 23.

The two countries are also scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting after Kenya’s August 8 election to iron out their historical trade differences.

Tanzania postponed similar talks in April, demanding that Nairobi lift gas restrictions first before any meeting could take place.

Following the Sunday deal, Kenya has now allowed liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from Tanzania into its market after a four-month ban.

However, the deal’s implementation was delayed as the relevant agencies awaited official communication from their respective ministries.

It is understood that a delay in sending a circular allowing Tanzanian LPG into the Kenyan market caused doubts among businesspeople in the two countries, who continued to face bottlenecks at the Customs border points.

Kenya’s Energy Ministry issued the circular on Thursday to the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KeBS), the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Treasury.

“The Energy Ministry sent the circulars this morning and we have communicated the same to KeBS. So far, we understand that more than 10 trucks loaded with the gas were allowed in, so it is now official: The ban isn’t in place anymore,” Kenya’s Trade Principal Secretary Dr Chris Kiptoo told The EastAfrican on Thursday.

The Sunday deal saw Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Minister Amina Mohamed and her Tanzanian counterpart Augustine Mahinga announce an end to the import restrictions on liquefied petroleum gas and wheat flour from Dar es Salaam; as well as milk and milk products, tiles and cigarettes from Nairobi.

Early this week, Kenya, through its Trade Ministry held a stakeholder meeting with the manufacturers and exporters to brief them on the developments. Kenyan traders were asked to “test” whether Tanzania had kept its side of the bargain.

Extra restrictions

On Wednesday, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers complained that Dar es Salaam had maintained restrictions that existed before the Sunday deal.

“We were told to export and see whether the restrictions still exist. We found that some products such as margarine, ice cream and tobacco are still unable to gain access to the Tanzanian market,” said KAM chief executive Phyllis Wakiaga.

Kenyan traders complained that Tanzanian authorities were still loading extra restrictions including demanding Kiswahili labels on some goods and clearance from the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority outside of the certification from the Tanzania Bureau of Standards.

“It is unfortunate that the product cannot be sold in the Tanzanian market due to TFDA requirements on labelling to suit the Tanzanian market. If Tanzania applies the harmonised standards then the products will be free to be sold anywhere in the region and the world,” KAM said in a statement.

However, Dr Kiptoo said on Thursday that he had spoken to the Customs officials and the blockade from the Tanzanian side “seems to have been lifted after their Custom agents received an official communication from Dar es Salaam.

“I have spoken to the manufacturers and taken in their concerns. We have also held talks with our border Customs officials and the Tanzanian side and are now sure we don’t have any restrictions between the two countries. So I think the discussion that we need to start having is how efficient the implementation of these two presidential directives will be,” said Dr Kiptoo.

Kenya says it has compiled a list of issues it wants addressed, outside of the recent import restrictions at the upcoming talks, so as to avoid a repeat of the same in future.

“Through our own committee, we have identified various non-trade barriers that Tanzania continues to place on Kenyan products. We hope when we have the bilateral discussions we will resolve these issues,” said Dr Kiptoo.

Technology Trims NBS Survey Costs By Half

By Ludovick Kazoka

Dodoma — THE National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has halved the survey costs from 2bn/- to 1bn/-, thanks to technological adoption.

The national statistical agency has registered the great feat after switching off from paperbased data collection to the use of modern technology.

NBS Director General Dr Albina Chuwa told the ‘Daily News’ here yesterday that the bureau was now conducting surveys more efficiently and speedily, saying the new technology is playing a critical role in surveys’ data collections.

“We will continue supporting the government in its cost-cutting drive by using modern technology in censuses and surveys and divert the saved funds to social services,” said Dr Chuwa.

She noted that currently NBS was finalising the Tanzania HIV Impact Survey, reassuring especially interviewees that personal information obtained from surveys will remain strictly confidential.

The NBS chief said data collected by the agency are purely for statistical uses, pointing out that NBS cannot release personal information to any other party. “Prior to being deployed for surveys, our interviewers take an oath of confidentiality under the Statistics Act of 2015,” explained the NBS Director General.

Dr Chuwa hinted that plans were underway to start the 2017/18 Household Bud get Survey, which aims at establishing the state of poverty in the country, saying the survey will be completed before next June.

She said the information provided from the surveys helps the government in development planning and policy making, urging members of the public to accord NBS interviewers maximum coop eration to enable them carry out their duties efficiently.

Dr Chuwa said wananchi have a central role to play in surveys through provision of accurate information to interviewers who visit their homes. She implored village and local governments leaders to mobilise community members to take part in surveys.

Tanzania

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Zimbabwe: CourierConnect Expands Services

Zimbabwe’s premier logistics company, CourierConnect has expanded into the customs clearing space to link with its courier business while riding on the expertise and capacity of its technical partner.

The technical partner, to be disclosed at a later date, has more than 50 years experience in the clearing business and has “large storage and warehousing facilities”, according to board chairperson Advocate Tatenda Pfigu.

In an interview after opening the Customs Clearing Services Bureau of Zimbabwe doors Thursday, Advocate Pfigu said the new baby is expected to become the key player and contributor to CourierConnect revenue. “We expect the clearing business to be our cash cow because for this business clients pay upfront before they collect their goods.

Already we are in the courier business there is a lot of clearing that is done. We are so excited about this business. “The business will involve clearing, warehousing, packaging and storage and today (Thursday) we have opened our doors to transact with members of the public but the official opening will be done by Government. We have come in to test the waters in terms of our strategy to diversify in order to ensure revenue and profit for our shareholder,” Advocate Pfigu said.

Some of the board members who attended the opening of the Customs Clearing Services Bureau of Zimbabwe include acting vice chairperson Dr Itai Muzvidziwa, and Noah Ziumbe together with CourierConnect managing director Isaac Muchokomori. “We have capacity through our strategic partnership with our technical partners whom we will disclose at the official opening.

“But our strategic partner has experience dating back as far as 1968 therefore we have access to their warehouses, storage facilities and expertise to drive business,” she added.

CourierConnect is licensed for both the domestic and international courier businesses and is a member of the Universal Postal Union’s Express Mail Service (EMS) Co-operative which allows the company to receive and send international mail to-and-from more than 700 000 postal outlets, the world over

Expanding into the clearing space is part of the logistics company strategy to diversify revenue streams.

Also as part of the strategy, CourierConnect last year launched the first Government owned travel bureau the Civil Service Travel Bureau which Advocate Pfigu said is doing well but is in the market to raise funds to finance payments to IATA. “CSTB is doing quite well in terms of the product life cycle that is expected.

The business is around a year and so far it is contributing about three percent per annum to revenue and we expect that contribution to rise to about 18 percent per annum if we get the funds that we are looking for.

Zimbabwe

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Region Lay Ground for Single Currency

Photo: Garrett Ziegler/Flickr

Uganda currency (file photo).

By Christabel Ligami

The East African Community has moved a step closer to attaining a Monetary Union after the Council of Ministers adopted two key Bills that will help the partner states to progressively establish a single currency.

The Council adopted the Draft East African Monetary Institute (EAMI) Bill, 2016 and the Bill establishing the East African Statistics Bureau.

The two proposed laws are a precondition for having a single currency by 2024 and will help the partner states to establish the East African Central Bank.

The EAMI is a transitional institution that will carry out preparatory work for the East African Monetary Union (EAMU).

The EAMI Bill aims at initiating legal instruments, identifying the host partner state, signing host country agreements and operationalising the institute.

Robert Maate, head of Statistics Department at the EAC Secretariat, said the Bill establishing the East African Statistics Bureau is a crucial instrument for the implementation of the Monetary Union as it will enable the partner states to harmonise their statistical data and produce quality data in the region.

“The Bill will also enable the partner states to determine which country can host the EAC Bureau of statistics,” said Mr Maate.

Partner states are expected to harmonise monetary and fiscal policies; harmonise financial, payment and settlement systems; financial accounting and reporting practices; policies and standards on statistical information; and, eventually establish an EAC Central Bank.

So far, the partner states have developed the EAMU monitoring mechanism and implementation of the convergence criteria . It is being used to gauge how the region is doing in the implementation of the convergence criteria.

Save for Burundi, the rest of EAC partner states have prepared their medium term convergence programmes and had them approved by finance ministers.

The EAMU Protocol lays the groundwork for a monetary union within 10 years and allows partner states to progressively converge their currencies into a single currency.The EAC heads of state signed a protocol in November 2013 in Kampala, committing to a 10-year road map towards achieving a Monetary Union in 2024.

The protocol provides for gradual establishment of four institutions including EAMI, a transitional institution responsible for laying the foundation for the EAMU.

It also provides for the introduction of a single currency and creation of a single central bank for the region.

East Africa

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Two More of Troubled Kampala Mogul’s Forex Bureaus Closed

By Morgan Mbabazi

Bank of Uganda has shut down another forex bureau belonging to troubled businessman Sudhir Ruparrelia.

Police supervised the Friday afternoon closure of Stanhope Forex Bureau’s Kampala Road and Nakivubo Road branches.

The closure of Stanhope, a business Mr Ruparrelia acquired in the mid-2000s, marks the tail end of the business mogul’s footprint in the financial services sector following the take over and eventual sale of Crane Bank, his flagship business, and the closure of four other forex bureaus last week.

Crane Bank was taken over by the Central Bank last year before it sold it to DFCU Bank.

The four bureaus closed last week are Crane Forex Bureau Ltd, Crane Forex Bureau Ltd, Karibu Forex Bureau and Redfox Forex Bureau De Change Ltd.

In a statement dated April 20, 2017, Bank of Uganda deputy governor Dr Louis Kasekende said that Stanhope’s licence had expired. The application for renewal was rejected.

Uganda

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