At the time of sale of UCB, Dr. Ezra Suruma was the General Manager and he vehemently opposed the sale of the bank - first to Westmont in 1997, fronted by President Yoweri Musevenis brother Salim Saleh, and later to South Africas Standard Bank in 2001. According to Dr. Suruma, who later served as Finance Minister, the technocrats used the high interest rates excuse to push for the sale of UCB, then the biggest indigenous bank in East Africa, ahead of the likes of Kenya Commercial Bank.
According to Dr. Ezra Suruma, the issue at hand should be how to plan ahead and respond to climatic factors like drought, adding that focus should be on how to mitigate the adverse impacts on individuals and families.
Prof. Suruma is a Senior Presidential Advisor responsible for Finance and Planning. He serves on the Board of the National Planning Authority. He is the Head of the Prime Ministers Delivery Unit responsible for the implementation of priority programmes of the Uganda Government.
Uganda is home to 25 commercial banks of which the top players namely Barclays Bank, Stanbic Bank and Standard Chartered Bank are foreign owned controlling 44.3percent of the total assets of all commercial banks in Uganda.
Experts on Ugandaâ€™s economy have questioned the usefulness of having billion of shillings saved in a foreign reserve fund while sections of the citizen continue to live in poverty, others dying due to lack of sufficient health care.
Dr Ezra Suruma, who now works as a Presidential Advisor on Finance and Economic Planning, said his experience shows that the country currently has no institutions with the capacity to properly manage public funds. He cited the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the recent Identity Cards project and Global Fund scandals where billions of shillings was misappropriated, as examples to show that the oil revenue could also be wasted.