KAMPALA – Bank of Uganda has enlisted the support of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help clean up the image of the Central Bank, in a move aimed at restoring public faith within the institution.
The revelation was made by Emmanuel Mutebile, the Governor Central Bank in the 2018/2019 annual report for Bank of Uganda that was released recently.
Mutebile said, “The Bank’s Communications Strategy for the period ended FY2013/14 – FY2017/18 is under review with support from the IMF. The periodic review is intended to strengthen areas such as Financial Stability Communication, Crisis Communication, and Digital Communication inclusive of social media in the forthcoming strategy for the FY 2018/19 FY 2022/23.”
Mutebile further defended the decision arguing that a positive reputation and good corporate image would enhance the Bank’s credibility which is crucial for successful formulation and implementation of price and financial stability policies, noting, “The cumulative nature of reputation means that the negative perceptions that the Bank has had to deal with have drawn down on its brand equity and could mask the accomplishments in its mandate. There is a concerted effort to strategically tackle this misinformation and negative publicity. The initiatives undertaken thus far are presented in subsequent sections.”
The Governor’s remarks followed findings in the Central Bank’s annual report that highlighted that despite the successful implementation of its mission, the Bank has been the focus of criticism from the public, as well as the subject of deliberate and malicious smear campaigns, which have resulted in the Bank’s credibility and integrity being brought into question.
Bank of Uganda stated that the current scrutiny and misinformation about the Bank started following the takeover of a Domestic Systemically Important Bank (DSIB) in October 2016, which is Crane Bank that was later sold to DFCU bank.
The report further highlighted that following the Central Bank’s commemoration of its 50th Anniversary in FY2016/17, there was a deliberate tactical approach to condense its stakeholder engagements into fewer activities.
Additionally, the report highlighted that the reduced stakeholder engagements in FY2017/18 inadvertently created a vacuum at a time when the Bank was resolving a DSIB and appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) and in 2018/19, this icked off an accumulation of negative public sentiment about the BoU brand.
Overall, negative tonality in media reports about the Bank throughout FY2018/19 averaged 9 percent in traditional media, and 17 percent in online media, both being significantly above the performance measure target of below 5 percent negative coverage set in the Bank’s Strategic Plan FY2017/18 – FY2021/22. For traditional media, this was a marked increase from 4.9 percent recorded during FY2017/18. Negative reporting spiked in October 2018.
The rise in negative reporting was partly on account of stories related to the Auditor General’s (AG) special audit report on closed banks, and a subsequent probe by the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), wherein the overarching narrative was that the Bank could have done more to strengthen the execution of its supervisory and regulatory role.
Each month, but especially during times of crisis, negative conversations in the mainstream media were amplified online through social media (Figure 14). The largest share of negative stories was related to alleged unethical behavior in the conduct of the central Bank’s mandate. This line of misreporting was perpetuated in the coverage of the COSASE probe and the printed matter inquiry. The public and media sentiments expressed during FY2018/19 suggest that the Bank needs to strengthen its corporate image.