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Letshego Uganda dismisses loan scam reports

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Roger Mugisha Shillingi, head of corporate communications at Letshego Uganda.

Roger Mugisha Shillingi, head of corporate communications at Letshego Uganda.

By Our Reporter

Letshego Uganda, a microfinance institution, has dismissed media reports linking it to a loan scam involving teachers and policemen.

The report alleges that 5000 teachers and policemen were cheated in a loan scam that fraudulently compelled them to refund money lent to them.

Roger Mugisha Shillingi, the Head of Corporate Communications at Letshego Uganda, has categorically dismissed the reports as untrue.

He revealed that in 2015, they received complaints related to loan disbursements where applicants from districts like Iganga, Jinja and Luwero were raising queries pertaining to deductions being made from their salary and yet they hadn’t applied for the loan (s).

“Letshego reported a case at Jinja road police station, vide Police Ref/CRB2979/2015 and Gef 29/2019 and continue to cooperate with the Police to ensure these cases are logically concluded.” Said Roger Mugisha Shillingi.

“We wish to emphasize that Letshego is the victim because it is the institution that lost money and not a beneficiary of the fraud. We cannot cheat customers who we open doors every day to serve and the only reason we exist.” He added.

He further noted that the company is bound by Customer Protection guidelines issued by UMRA (Uganda Microfinance Regulatory Authority) which embody transparency and integrity.

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CoronaVirus Uganda

NSSF supports paying out partial contributions to members for COVID-19 relief

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NSSF Managing Director Richard Byarugaba

NSSF Managing Director Richard Byarugaba

By Our Reporter

The global outbreak of COVID-19 has disrupted all economies around the world.

This after different measures aimed at curbing its spread were implemented including a lock down which created massive economic and social challenges.

This has led sections of the general public to turn to the National Social Security Fund(NSSF) for relief,  calling for a pay out of a portion of accumulated contributions to its members.

The NSSF managing Director Richard Byarugaba, in a letter to members, has said that the Fund is in support of the public call for mid term Benefits to members.

“We have witnessed a heightened level of stress among our members that have lost means of their livelihood. This has brought to the forefront the role of NSSF to its many members,” Richard Byarugaba says in the letter. “Understandably, some politicians and sections of the general public have been calling for the Fund to pay out a portion of accumulated contributions to its members. We feel your pain and understand your outcry.”

“Following this outcry, we shared with our line Minister our understanding of the worst-case scenario of the economic implications of the proposal to pay out an unplanned 20% of the Fund to its members. We owed it to the Minister, our members and all Ugandans to be honest in the analysis to facilitate the process of making the right decisions that need to be made.Understandably, this analysis may have given a wrong impression that NSSF does not in any way support mid-term benefits. That is far from the truth.” He added

“In the final paragraph of the letter to the Minister, we reiterated our support for planned mid-term benefits, that are embedded within the NSSF Amendment Bill before Parliament. We must clarify that the current legislation, NSSF Act Cap 222, that governs the Fund’s operations does not provide for mid-term benefits and regrettably has limited our ability to offer you new benefits.” He concluded.

Meanwhile, before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fund together with various stakeholders especially the Trade Unions proposed amendments to the NSSF Act which among other changes provides for additional benefits to the existing age benefits, invalidity benefit and survivors benefit. The proposed amendments are currently before Parliament.

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CoronaVirus Uganda

East African Business Council donates face masks to cross-border communities

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East African Business Council (EABC) has donated Face Masks worth UGX60million to cross-border communities in Uganda.

By Our Reporter

In support of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, the East African Business Council (EABC) has donated Face Masks worth UGX 60 million to cross-border communities in Uganda.

The reusable Face Masks are intended to help protect over 30,000 members of communities at Uganda’s border points who at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19.

In recent weeks Uganda has recorded COVID-19 positive cases mostly from cargo truck drivers crossing the borders from within the East African Community (EAC).

While making the donation, the EABC appealed to everyone in the EAC region to avoid stigmatization of cargo truck drivers as it could lead to a break in the supply chain in the EAC, affecting trade and investment.

The EABC has approached the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to support the distribution of the masks at the border points of Malaba, Busia, Mutukula, Katuna, Kikagate, Kagitumba, Cyanika, Elegu, Nimule, Oraba and others where cross-border activities take place.

“We trust the URA as one of the government agencies that has been central to Uganda’s success in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, and recognize the effort invested in tracking and monitoring truck drivers. We know this will support the work of the Ministry of Health and we will encourage more businesses to contribute to all government efforts against
COVID-19,” said EABC Director Stuart Mwesigwa (Roofings Group).

The communities to benefit from this consignment include customs officials, clearing agents, cross-border women traders, porters and truck drivers themselves. The masks were procured in Uganda and manufactured by Ugandan SME Chrisams Designs.

“This is an indicator that the EABC values local content in East Africa and we will actively support the development of business at all levels. We have also arranged to order similar consignments from each EAC Partner State and we urge the governments to focus on building business in East Africa,” said EABC Director Simon Kaheru (Coca-Cola Beverages Africa).

Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister, Gen. Moses Ali, welcomed the gesture as significant and highly meaningful.

“We are winning this war because of contributions such as these. COVID-19 is the enemy and the enemy is already squatting. Every contribution we get will help us defeat this enemy fully. It is also good to note that these Face Masks were made by a Ugandan and East African business,” said Gen. Ali.

He was flanked by Hon. Mary Karooro Okurut, Minister in charge of General Duties, and COVID-19 Task Force Chairperson Emmanuel Katongole and Member Robert Kabushenga.

The EABC has also donated masks to Rwanda Revenue Authority to aid in the fight against the Covid-19 at Rusumo One Stop Border Post, and will continue to mobilise business across the region.

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Local Business

MTN Uganda reaches out to Muslim Community in Busoga ahead of Eid celebration

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By Our Reporter

MTN Uganda has handed over food and alms worth Ugx 20 million to the Muslim community in Jinja district through Busoga Kingdom. This is part of the ongoing Ramadan drive by the telecom to reach out to the Muslim community as they observe the holy month.

This support underscores the long standing relationship that the telecom giant has had with both the Kingdom of Busoga and the Muslim community at large. This year’s Ramadan however presents a different scenario as the fasting season has fallen at a time when the whole world is grappling with the COVID 19 pandemic which has paralysed the livelihoods of many.

While handing over the foodstuffs at the Busoga Kingdom headquarters in Jinja, Isaiah Ssemamuli the Jinja Regional Business manager of MTN Uganda congratulated the Muslim community for observing Ramadan amidst these challenging circumstances and encouraged them to keep the faith and continue to seek Allah during these unprecedented times.

He further said that, “Over the years MTN Uganda has stood with Muslim community within the region and this year has not been any different. With our humble donation, we believe that our Muslim brothers and sisters in Busoga will be able to have a decent meal for the fast approaching Eid celebration.”

The guest of honour at the handover, the Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon Rebecca Kadaga commended MTN Uganda for the generosity they have always extended towards Busoga Kingdom over the years.

Hon. Kadaga also thanked the Muslim community in Busoga for persevering through these tough times and keeping the faith during Ramadan. She encouraged them to continue adhering to the government regulations of social distancing, hand washing and wearing of masks. She went ahead to advocate for transparency in the distribution of the consignment such that the food reaches its intended beneficiaries.

Besides the Ugx 20 million worth of food that was handed over to the Busoga Muslim community today, MTN Uganda has been distributing food and alms to the Muslim community in and around Kampala as part of the telecom company’s support to the Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan.

The handovers of food and alms worth Ugx 100million in Kampala and surrounding areas started at the onset of the fasting season and will end before Eid-el-Fitr that is expected to fall at the end of this week. Over 18 communities within Kampala, Entebbe and Mukono districts had packages delivered to them. These communities include; Mosques, Uganda Prisons, Uganda Police, orphanages and teacher training schools among others.

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CoronaVirus Uganda

UNICEF partners with Airtel Africa to support children and families affected by COVID-19

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Fayaz King, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Field Results and Innovation.

Fayaz King, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Field Results and Innovation.

By Our Reporter

UNICEF has partnered with Airtel Africa to provide children with access to remote learning and enable access to cash assistance for their families via mobile cash transfers.

Under this partnership, UNICEF and Airtel Africa will use mobile technology to benefit an estimated 133 million school age children currently affected by school closures in 13 countries across sub-Saharan Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The adverse effects of school closures on children’s learning are well documented. Education experts warn that gains made in increasing access to learning in the previous decade are at risk of being lost, or even reversed completely. And for poor households around the world, the pandemic means a reduced or total loss of income due to the movement restrictions in place.

Remote learning, supported by digital tools, is a core part of UNICEF’s response to ensure continuity of learning for those children with access to technology at home. Airtel Africa will zero-rate select websites hosting educational content, which will provide children with remote access to digital content at no cost.

“COVID-19 is affecting access to information and education at an unprecedented scale,” said Fayaz King, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Field Results and Innovation. “Worldwide, most children are not in school, which we know can lead to a number of increased vulnerabilities and setbacks. UNICEF is partnering with Airtel Africa to deliver better outcomes for children and families affected by widespread closures.”

The partnership will also provide UNICEF with a means to facilitate vital cash assistance to alleviate financial barriers for some of the most vulnerable families across the region, including many affected by the growing socio-economic hardships resulting from suspension of income earning activities. This will help ensure families have additional resources to cope with the ongoing health and economic crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some effective ways to cushion families from the effects of this crisis is through providing free Internet access to selected educational websites to help children keep up with their learning during the school closures and direct cash transfer programmes to reduce physical presence requirements for cash in hand exchanges,” said Raghunath Mandava, Airtel Africa Chief Executive Officer. “Alongside various other COVID-19 related initiatives and support that we are providing to Governments and the community, we are glad to also collaborate with UNICEF to support children.”

The partnership with Airtel Africa supports UNICEF’s Global Agenda for Action for Children. The plan outlines global actions which private and public sector partners can take to keep millions of girls and boys – including those who have been uprooted by conflict, children living with disabilities, and girls at risk of violence – healthy, safe and learning.

UNICEF and Airtel Africa’s partnership aims to benefit children and families in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa: Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

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