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Kasaija: No Leadership Vacuum At BoU, We Are Satisfied With Central Bank’s Performance

Former BoU Governor, the late Prof Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile

The Government is satisfied with the performance of the Central Bank of Uganda under the leadership of the Deputy Governor, Michael Atingi-Ego.

The Finance, Planning, and Economic Development Minister, Matia Kasaija revealed this in an interview with our reporter on Monday. The position of the Governor fell vacant following the demise of Prof Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile early this year.

Mutebile, who served Uganda for 20 years between 2001-2021, succumbed to multiple organ failure at the Nairobi Hospital in Kenya on January 23rd, 2022 at 72 years of age. He was celebrated as the 10th and longest-serving Governor in the history of Uganda since 1966. It is now nine months since the departure of Prof Mutebile and President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has not yet appointed a substantive replacement, which has attracted criticism from the public and leaders in the country.

They blame the delay on the lack of a proper institutional transition plan. But Kasaija refuted the remarks in the public domain arguing that the President appointed Atingi-Ego who was consequently seconded and approved by Parliament to fill the vacuum that was created by the sudden departure of Mutebile.

“He is doing a fantastic job and we don’t have any leadership vacuum relating to leadership at the Central Bank”, Kasaija said. Atingi-Ego, is a Ugandan economist, who was first appointed BoU Deputy Governor on March 29, 2020. At the time of his appointment, he served as the Executive Director of the Macroeconomics and Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa, based in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Perez Godfrey Ahabwe, an economist, former Minister of Local Governments, and Rubanda County Legislator in Kabale District, noted the President’s delay in the appointment of a substantive Governor, a key embodiment figure to steer BoU is a bad signal to the monetary policy of Uganda.

Ahabwe explained that Mutebile was an outstanding economist under whose watch Uganda’s macroeconomic policies were laid down to streamline the management of money supply and interest rate to contain inflation, consumption, growth, and liquidity among others.

Equally, Joel Ssenyonyi, a lawyer and the Nakawa East Constituency Member of Parliament and the Chairperson of Commissions, Statutory Authority and State Enterprises – COSASE under which BoU falls, also described the absence of a substantive Governor as problematic for the stability of the economy.

Some of the names such as the former Premier John Patrick Amama Mbabazi have been mentioned as potential replacements for Mutebile. John Musila, the Bubulo East Member of Parliament in Namisindwa District, says that the President should not be rushed to appoint the Governor.

Leonard Okello, a political scientist who doubles as the Executive Director of Uhuru Institute for Social Development, says  the delayed appointment of the Governor only exposes the cracks in the management of institutional transition in Uganda.

Mutebile’s signature still remains on the country’s banknotes that continue to circulate as legal tender. The BoU recently issued a statement reaffirming Mutebile’s signature, saying his demise will not affect the money in circulation.

The Bank of Uganda Act of 1966 stipulates that the Governor and Deputy Governor of the Bank of Uganda shall be appointed by the President of Uganda with the consent of the Cabinet, and both shall be appointed for a period of five years and shall be eligible for reappointment.

However, the Act is silent on the period within which, in the event of death, the President can appoint the next Governor. For now, Ugandans will still have to wait for that to happen because only God and President Museveni have the ultimate answer.

A Central Bank Governor plays a key role in setting the monetary and regulatory policy, determining interest rates, maintaining price stability, controlling the national money supply and issuance and foreign exchange currency rates and gold reserves as well as overseeing and controlling the banking industry.

-URN

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