Ambassador: Uganda’s Corruption Scares US Companies

ask geneva; font-size: small;”>“Although I know that no panel today was assigned the topic of corruption, store we cannot speak seriously and candidly about developing infrastructure or energy projects if we avoid discussing this issue, online ” Scott said as he gave closing remarks for American Chamber of Commerce Investment Opportunities in Energy and Infrastructure Summit at Sheraton Hotel, Kampala on Thursday evening.

“We have all read the tragic stories about the way donor development funds were diverted away from their intended purposes to the detriment of the nation and its citizens. The government’s partnership with the donor community is seriously threatened by this and other incidents of pervasive corruption,” he observed.

“Moreover, I fear that remedial efforts to address the most immediate donor concerns, although important steps, will do little to tackle the underlying reality that this unchecked virus is inextricably linked to the framework of governance in Uganda today.”

The envoy further noted: “Aid and investment may still come, but if real changes are not made we risk the same results of unfulfilled expectations, misdirected and stolen funds, and a failure to advance the national agenda.”

Scott’s warning comes against the backdrop of western aid cuts over the plunder of over Shs30bn donor-support funds for the recovery of Northern Uganda from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).

The main architect in the OPM plunder, Godfrey Kazinda, is facing charges f forgery and abuse of office at the Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala.

He is accused of conniving with officials in Bank of Uganda and Finance Ministry in the heist that shocked the nation and sparked off huge donor aid cuts.

“President Museveni has said he is determined to tackle corruption in Uganda. I commend him for that. As former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “Corruption is the cancer that eats away at the entrepreneurial spirit and hopes of millions of people.” To be frank, executives from U.S. companies tell us corruption is a major deterrent to coming to Uganda, and the IMF reports that one in five businesses list corruption as the number one problem they face doing business here,” observed Scott.

He added: “American companies can, as has been true in so many other nations, be tremendous drivers of growth. And by doing business with American companies, the private sector can help in the fight against corruption.”

The ambassador said US companies abide by the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and are held to the highest standards of transparency and fairness.

“They won’t undermine Uganda’s institutions. American companies want to do business in Uganda, but they can only do so if there is a level playing field ensured by policies that enshrine good governance and transparency.”

This is the latest candid statement on corruption from the US in recent months.

Scott reiterated the disease of corruption violates the basic trust between citizens and the government, “undermines the development priorities that we are all working so hard to achieve, and causes investors to turn their backs on Uganda seeking destinations where bribery, kickbacks, and other forms of corruption are not the subtext of every negotiation.”

Over the next few months, said Scott, the donor community will be “watching carefully” to see what steps Uganda takes to ensure that the perpetrators are punished regardless of their status or station, and that systems are repaired so these unfortunate actions can’t be repeated.

“I believe that the business community will, and should be, watching with similar concern.”

He added: “Even if Ugandans and their leaders begin to turn the tide on corruption, their partners, like the United States with its tremendous commitment to working in tandems with Uganda on development priorities, will continue to seek assurances that the nation’s vision of the future is sound.”

“Do they have the political will to manage oil revenues in a way that will ensure sustainable, inclusive economic growth? Will they make the right decisions about how to best use scare resources to nurture a healthy, productive, educated society so their country can move forward? Will they plan well for their explosive population growth and create jobs for the millions more young people who will be searching for work each year?”


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