KAMPALA — The Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija has in a bizarre explanation advised owners of private schools sell them off or some their assets to pay whopping bank loans.
Kasaija in Thursday told journalists after interfacing with Parliament’s Trade and Tourism Committee that is investigating the effect of the second lockdown on businesses.
Asked what plans Government has for school owners who risk losing their schools after failing to pay loans, Kasaija said he has no powers to demand commercial banks to reschedule their loans but the school owners must consider selling off some of their assets to save their schools because making losses is part of business.
“For owners of private teachers, I don’t have any solution for them because I don’t have enough money to do what the country wants me to do. If you have another property, sell that property save your school. Or sell the school. If you don’t have another property, go to your bank and negotiate, but if you went and borrowed from money lenders, those ones I don’t control them,” Kasaija said.
He added: “I am giving them advise, if they have any other assets, let them see them so that the money from the other assets save the schools instead of losing everything. But to say that each time you have a problem, Government should come to your aid, it won’t be possible.”
For the private school teachers, Kasaija said they will be considered among the vulnerable groups but isn’t sure if the money the Finance Ministry allocated to teachers in the first lockdown reached the intended beneficiaries.
“For the teachers, we took them as vulnerable and we sent them money but I don’t know if they received the money or not. I don’t know if we shall open fully for people to go back to school, that is a question mark. Don’t look at Government because I don’t have the money,” said Kasaija.
Minister Kasaija extended the same caution to traders saying although accumulating debts isn’t a crime, he can’t tell the banks where they borrowed the money from to forgive them, because the banks will tell me to give them money.
“In the first lockdown there was restructuring but I am being told that the restructuring has become a burden,” the Minister said, adding: “The Committee has told me to form a Fund to form traders, but how many funds am I going to form? I am appealing to commercial banks, look at their customers one by one, those you believe will wake up, please forgive them.”
Proprietors of private schools have on several occasions asked the government to save them from commercial banks which want to sell off their schools for defaulting on loan repayment.
Kasaija has also informed traders that the government will not be able to help them with the interest on the loans but has promised to look into the issue of setting up a special fund for traders since they face difficulty in getting assistance from Uganda Development Bank