uganda graft norway embezzle

Valley’s Elite Schools Pay Peanuts as Land Rent
corruption impunity cronies kashmir prestigious

Uganda's Graft Repels Norway's Aid

Norway tried to be generous with its oil revenue but failed. Kashmir tried to charge its elite but failed. How can the masses win? We trim, blend, and append two 2012 articles from (1) Reuters, Nov 7, on stolen aid by E. Biryabarema, and (2) Greater Kashmir, Oct 11, on avoided rent by Umer Maqbool.

by Elias Biryabarema and by Umer Maqbool

Norway has become the fourth European country to suspend aid to Uganda after $13 million in donor funds was found to have been embezzled.

The growing scandal adds to concerns about corruption under President Yoweri Museveri, accused by his critics of creating a culture of impunity for cronies who steal public money but are loyal to his party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM).

Norway joined Britain, Ireland, and Denmark in suspending aid after Uganda's auditor general last month exposed the theft of funds meant for reconstruction in two impoverished regions. It implicated officials in the prime minister's office.

Norway's total aid to Uganda amounts to about $70 million a year.

Aid accounts for about 25 percent of Uganda's annual budget in Africa's largest coffee exporter.

To read more

JJS: Insiders not only get to take public funds for themselves, they also get to avoid paying what they owe their society.

The annual rent paid by Valley’s prestigious missionary schools for using the state land at prime locations in the summer capital is 30 times less than the admission fee charged by them from a single student.

Not only this, the lease of the land expired in 2009 on Dec 18.

Same is the story of Presentation Convent Girls Higher Secondary School Rajbagh.

Ground rent of the 85 kanals of land in prime Lal Chowk area under Biscoe School is only Rs 1250 per annum. The institution has failed to pay even this meager rent for last 36 years.

To read more

JJS: Of course you can imagine who attends those schools -- the children of the elite.

At one point, those in government knew enough to at least pass a law that was designed to recover the socially-generated value of land. Unfortunately, those in power also could not find the gumption to enforce the law. So insiders win and everyone else loses.

And it’s not just politicians in less developed regions. In America, most port districts are public land. Do the authorities get the full market value of those locations? Does that raised revenue reach the public in beneficial ways? Hong Kong exists on public land. Israel exists on land held in trust. The same question remains: to whom does all the annual rental value of the locations flow?

How can we make it so that everyone understands that the value of land, that the money to be made from locations, belongs to everyone? How do we raise awareness? How do we transform custom and law? We must keep repeating the message until people feel that it’s wrong for only a few to capture the worth of Mother Earth and feel cheated, ripped off, if they’re not getting their fair share. Once enough people articulate such an understanding, then not so many would be willing to try keep the blessings of nature for themselves. Enough people would understand that our spending for land and resources is a social surplus and that social surplus should be our common wealth.


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .

Also see:

In Uganda, Honduras, People Battle to Death for Land

Feudalism in Pakistan, Communalism in Uganda

Land Row Delays Resettlement of Congolese Refugees

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