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EXCLUSIVE: Balunywa leads race for BoU Governor job

Prof. Balunywa (holding microphone), is favourite to be next BoU Governor ahead of Muhakanizi, and Dr. Kasekende (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – President Museveni is considering the next leadership changes at Bank of Uganda with Makerere University Business School Principal Waswa Balunywa a leading candidate to take over from Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, according to reliable government and State House sources.

Mr. Mutebile is not expected to serve beyond his current term, which ends in 2021 and according to sources, Prof. Balunywa, who has maintained a strong working connection with President Museveni all his public service life, is poised to replace him in changes that will shake up the Central Bank.

President Museveni is currently reportedly plotting a massive Cabinet reshuffle that is expected to come along with several changes in government.

According to sources, Prof. Balunywa, whom President Museveni praised before ordering First Lady and Education Minister Janat Museveni to extend his current term at MUBS in May 2018, had edged ahead of Secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi, while current deputy Governor Dr. Louis Kasekende is rated a rank outsider in the race, following administrative and power intrigue currently engulfing the Central Bank, for which he is part of the set up.

Apart from the trio, President Museveni has before reportedly considered the current Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Internal Affairs Dr. Benon Mutambi and the National Social Security Fund Managing Director Richard Byarugaba for the job, but the two are also rated a ranking outsiders by sources close to the President. Dr. Mutambi, a former Chief Economist at the Central Bank is rated highly by the p[resident following his stellar performance as Chief Executive Officer of the Electricity Regulatory Authority, from where he was promoted to become PS.

Current Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile (R) is expected to be retired when President Museveni make changes at BoU. (PHOTO/File)

Government onTuesday dismissed reports making rounds on WhatsApp platforms that President Museveni had already named Prof. Balunywa the new central Bank Governor.

Said Mr Opondo, the government spokesman:

“I don’t speculate on executive appointments by the President. BoU is a very public office, if someone is to appointed their names have to be forwarded to Parliament  for approval”.

President Museveni’s Senior Press Secretary Mr. Don Wanyama told PML Daily: “We do not have any information to that effect”.

However, a reliable source intimated to this website “there is no smoke without fire”, maintaining that President Museveni was planning wholesale changes at BoU, following a recent parliamentary inquiry into the operations of the Central Bank.

President Museveni, regards Prof. Balunywa highly as evidenced by comments in this letter (PHOTO/File)

The government has already promised to make several operational and policy changes in the management of the Central Bank as recommended by a parliamentary committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) chaired by Bugweri MP Abdu Katuntu, after months of quizzing BoU top management over the closure of seven commercial banks, including Crane Bank Limited.

Finance minister Matia Kasaija said earlier this year that the Katuntu committee sent him the report and action would be taken soon.

“We are moving, but I cannot give you the whole detail. We have received a report from Bank of Uganda showing the actions they have taken. But I cannot give you details on these actions too. The report was sent to me about three days ago,” Mr Kasaija is quoted as saying by Daily Monitor on July 5, 2019.

The Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, on July 5, 2019 in his address to Parliament, said government would take serious action on the several inconsistencies in BoU’s closure of commercial banks.

In their report, Parliament reported to Mr Museveni that the central bank was polarised by cliques.

The report said all the staff interviewed indicated in a way that they belong to at least a clique aligned to either Mr Mutebile or Mr Louis Kasekende, the BoU deputy governor.

To ease the tensions at BoU, the tripartite committee also recommended the separation of the position of the governor from that of the board chairman and also highlighted the need for the President to create a second position of Deputy Governor.

Internal Affairs PS Dr. Benon Mutambi (L) is highly regarded by President Museveni, while NSSF MD Byarugaba has also been considered (PHOTO/File).

One of the deputy governors would be in charge of administration whereas the other would help the governor on the core function of the central bank because all the findings indicated that the Governor is overloaded and exposes his position to unnecessary controversies.

It is understood that Prof. Balunywa, who has previously served for two terms on the BoU board, leaving a good record, had edged out Mr. Muhakanizi, who continues to post strong performance as secretary to the Treasury. Dr. Kasekende is reportedly edged out because of the MPs recommendations while the source gave an example of Mr. Museveni’s May 28, 2018 letter where the President unequivocally ordered the First Lady, to re-appoint Prof. Balunywa as MUBS Principal, who she had argued was due for retirement over-age, as recommended by then MUBS Council Chairman Prof. Venansious Baryamureeba.

But Mr Museveni wrote to his wife, arguing that the MUBS chief “has always been on the right side of the liberation ideology” and had given the MUBS institution good leadership without strikes.

“I have never found him averse to advice the few times I have interacted with him. Such a person is always good to work with,” Mr Museveni wrote, in glowing praise to the MUBS chief.

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