UG Export Promotion Board on the Spot over 5BN sunk in Dubai Trade Expo: Who took what

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Lato Milk made in Uganda exhibited at Dubai Trade Expo 2020; Courtesy Photo

It has emerged that the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development provided funds to the tune of 5BN to Uganda Export Promotion Board for the ongoing Dubai exposition 2020, despite early indicators of poor delivery on the global business stage.

The new development is revealed in a letter written by the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and Secretary to the Treasury, Mr Ramathan Ggoobi, in which he authorizes additional expenditure of UGX 1,979,540,400 for the Dubai exposition 2020, on top of the UGX 3 billions earlier given to Uganda Export Promotion Board.

“Reference is made to the letter Ref: UEPB/ED/21-087 dated 1 3th September, 2021 requesting for UShs. 5,283,067,000= across various MDAs to enable their participation in the Dubai 2020 Expo,” he revealed.

The Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB) had wrote a letter to the Ministry of Finance and economic development on 13/9/2021 requesting that the budget of expo go to UGX5 billion from the original UGX3 billion.

The Ministry of Finance and economic development went ahead and gave the money saying it was an urgent matter.

“We have reviewed the requests in line with the budget provision for the respective institutions for FY 2021 /22 and observed the urgency to provide additional Quarter One Expenditure Limit amounting to UShs. 1,979,540,400.”

“This is therefore, to authorize additional Expenditure Limits amounting to UShs. 1,979,540.400 (One billion, Nine hundred and seventy nine million, Five hundred and forty thousand, Four hundred Shillings Only) to your votes as indicated in Annex 1 attached,” Ggoobi stated.

We have also established that six entities benefitted from the 5BN cash bonanza including Uganda Export Promotion Board, which took the lion’s share of the money – 977m, Ministry of Agriculture – 502m, Ministry of Foreign Affairs – 276m, Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives – 87m, Uganda Investment Authority – 96m and Uganda Coffee Development Board (UCD) got 40m.

“You are requested to submit your warrant requests on the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) to facilitate release of funds,” said Ggoobi.

According to the organizing protocols of the Dubai Expo 2020, Uganda Export Promotion Board was selected and charged as the lead agency to organize and put everything in order for Uganda to benefit from the exposition. This is how the promotion board ended up taking the budget lions share.

It has however turned out that things have not gone well at the Expo as some local exhibitors like Livara were tossed up and further conned at the event yet they had got clearance from the Export Promotion Board. Other local innovators have testified about how they were denied the opportunity to exhibit at the trade fair that registered attendance of a high number of politicians from Uganda.

It’s should also be noted that social media was awash with pictures of the Lato Milk stall where items were literally laid down on the floor, something that triggered criticism from a good section of Ugandans who blamed the Ugandan organizers of the Dubai exposition for embarrassing their country.

However, by Tuesday, four days after the start of the Expo, Uganda Investment Authority had scooped investment deals worth $800 millions despite being one of the least funded agencies with only 96 million Ugandan shillings in the ongoing Dubai Expo 2020. The said deals were signed off by the Minister of Finance and Economic planning, Hon Matia Kassaija.

According to Uganda Investment Authority, letters of intent to invest in Uganda USD500 million were signed by Connect LLC, the United Arab Conglomerate to undertake renewable energy projects that will generate electricity and provide smart energy storing, last mile supply and billing of all utilities and the planning and building of innovative public transport routes.

A Chinese company Guangzhou Wondfo Biotec, is another prospective investor who also signed letters of intent to set up a pharmaceutical facility in Uganda worth USD50 million to manufacture diagnostic kits for HIV/AIDS, Malaria, TB, and other POC diagnostic technology.

Others include Modha Investments another conglomerate that will focus on the development and commercialization of Cashew Nuts and Hass Avocado in Uganda. The company has reportedly established a wide market in Europe, Asia and UAE for the supply of Hass Avocado and nuts.

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