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Today, Matia Kasaija, the minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development will present a Shs 72 trillion budget for the financial year 2024-2025. Devon Ssuubi and Timothy Nsubuga went to the streets and asked the public what they would like from the budget.

Enoch Mwebazza, an IT consultant

I stopped being interested in the budget because, truth be told, the money allocated only benefits government workers that earn salaries. Their initiatives have failed year in and year out.

I know they will say that in the last financial year there has been an improvement in infrastructure such as roads and other sectors. But the truth is that all those are lies. Inflation is always affecting farmers. 

If at all they feel like they want to help, they should start on the roads. That is because, however much people don’t earn directly from having good roads, they are indirectly affected economically when the roads are in a poor state. For example, farmers cannot move their produce if the roads are bad.

Davis Atwine, a businessman

More money should be allocated to the health sector by constructing more hospitals because most of them are in a poor state, especially those in the rural areas. They should also put more drugs in them.

Shahan Owakayumbake, market vendor 

I would wish to see more money allocated to the health sector because some people get sick and get treatment abroad.  And yet most Ugandans can’t afford that kind of treatment.

Patients stranded at hospital
Patients stranded at hospital


Gaston Bernard Atusimire, a businessman

They should allocate most of the money towards agriculture to ensure farmers have access to agricultural inputs.

Brain Sserunjongi, researcher at EPRC

It is time more money is spent on productive sectors such as tourism, agriculture, oil and gas. Things that can be able to create jobs, especially for our youths, given the increasing crime rates on the streets and unemployment.

Secondly, I know we still have infrastructure deficits, but it would be good to strike a balance between developing infrastructure and also investing in productive sectors. We have had issues where roads have been built in areas where there is no production.

People are using those nice roads to dry cassava and maize. It is high time we promoted value addition and boost the production base. For example, in the central region, every time coffee is doing well, poverty reduces. Human development is also important. The budget should spend a lot more money on the health and education sectors.

Felister, food vendor

The government should begin with the roads because most of them are in a poor state. Just look at this Kamwokya road, full of potholes everywhere.

Then the education sector should also be considered by constructing more government-aided schools so as to help parents that find it hard to raise school fees. Lastly, I beseech the government to allocate money for traders, like maybe in our Saccos, for borrowing at low interest rates.

Ashraf, a chapatti maker

Let them reduce the taxes because various businesses have failed due to the high tax rates. They should also channel more money towards the health sector so that people can get free medical care and services. They they should also invest more money in fixing the roads.

Michael Namanya, shopkeeper

More money should be allocated to the health sector because people are dying because of poor health facilities. Also, there is a need improve the road network. This will ease the transportation of goods and also decrease the rate of accidents.

Mwambu, bodaboda rider

I think the government should allocate more money towards fixing the bad roads. Even though the government increases the taxes that it collects from the masses, most of the money should be allocated to road construction. This will enable the reduction of road accidents.  by DEVON SSUUBI & TIMOTHY NSUBUGA. The Observer

A Russian television station has won a court order for the seizure of Google’s assets in South Africa over the global tech giant’s failure to reinstate the Moscow-based entity’s YouTube channel.

News24 wrote on June 11 that South Africa’s Gauteng division of the High Court allowed for the attachment of Google’s shares and trademarks held in Africa’s most developed nation.

Zané Hartman, director of Johannesburg-based Pagel Schulenburg Attorneys, which is representing the Russian network, No Fond Pravoslavnogo Televideniya (NFPT), Business Report wrote on June 12, said a high court application was also served electronically on Google LLC in California, US, last week.

“The main application against Google LLC is for the conversion of the foreign civil judgment confirmed by the Ninth Arbitrazh Court of Appeal in Russia,” Hartman said.

“The Russian civil judgment is two-fold: Firstly, it orders the reinstatement of the YouTube channel belonging to the Russian NPO. Secondly, it imposes astreinte [a monetary penalty for failure to reinstate the channel].  What the main application seeks to achieve, is to obtain a court order in South Africa that enforces the Russian judgment here, specifically the astreinte that is being imposed on Google LLC.”

The firm said this would mean that the Russian not-for-profit organisation, whose name translates to The Foundation for Orthodox Television, was entitled to execute the judgment against Google LLC within South African borders in all the ways provided for in terms of the law, meaning a sales in execution of Google LLC’s assets.

Pagel Schulenburg Attorneys represents NFPT, which operates a Russian media company known as “Spas” in its application against the Alphabet Group, of which Google is a wholly-owned subsidiary.  The European Union sanctioned the radio station in December 2023.

The matter dates back to March 2023 when an award was made by the Moscow Arbitrazh Court against Google LLC, ordering the reinstatement of Russian channel’s YouTube Channel, and imposing astreinte.  Google appealed three months later but lost the case leading to NFPT launching the ex parte application in South Africa in December2023 seeking an order allowing edictal citation and substituted service, Hartman said.

“In March of this year, the order in terms of the ex parte application was granted, which led to the main application being served electronically on Google LLC and the assets of Google LLC being attached by the sheriff at Google’s South African premises.”

The main application against Google LLC, Pagel said, was for the conversion of the foreign civil judgment confirmed by the Ninth Arbitrazh Court of Appeal in Russia.  If the application succeeds, the Russian entity will be entitled to execute the judgment against Google LLC in South Africa.

Reached for comment by Business Report, Google said they were still taking legal advice. By Thulani Mpofu, BNE-Intellinews

A woman reacts as members of the Kenya Defense Forces search for the bodies of missing people after flash floods wiped out several homes following heavy rains in Kamuchiri village of Mai Mahiu, Kenya, on May 1, 2024.

The World Meteorological Organization warns that Tropical Cyclone Hidaya, which is projected to make landfall in Tanzania and Kenya this weekend, threatens to worsen the humanitarian crisis triggered by torrential rains in these and other heavily flooded countries in East Africa.

“Hidaya is the first documented system to have reached tropical cyclone status in this part of the world. We are not talking about Sudan. We are talking about lower and East Africa,” WMO spokesperson Clare Nullis told journalists in Geneva on Friday.

“It is historically significant. It is also going to have a very big impact, and specifically on Tanzania, where the ground is already absolutely soddened. Tanzania, which has suffered flooding, is about to get hit with more heavy rains falling ... from this system.

“And the moisture in this tropical cyclone will also impact Kenya, where there is also very, very bad flooding,” she said, noting that “climate change was supercharging extreme weather.”

FILE - Children flee floodwaters that wreaked havoc at Mororo, at the border of Tana River and Garissa counties, Kenya, April 28, 2024.
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El Nino, which sparked heavy rains and severe flooding sweeping East Africa, is waning. Despite this, the WMO says this weather event still carries a big punch and is leading to more heavy rainfall, devastating floods and landslides in the East African region.

While casualty figures continue to rise, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports this disaster so far has killed more than 400 people. This includes at least 210 in Kenya, more than 150 in Tanzania and others in Burundi, Rwanda and Somalia.

OCHA reports heavy rains and floods in these five countries have affected more than 637,000 people, including 234,000 who are displaced. It says governments and humanitarian agencies are still assessing the damage and destruction of infrastructure, which is extensive.

“In terms of economic losses, it is still too early to say. When you look at the images of bridges and roads being swept away, it is going to be immense,” said Nullis. “The loss of livestock, the disruption of agriculture. It is a huge, huge investment.”

In an address to his nation Friday, Kenyan President William Ruto outlined a series of measures to deal with this emergency, noting that no corner of the country “has been spared from this havoc.”

“Sadly, we have not seen the last of this perilous period, as this situation is expected to escalate,” he said. “Meteorological reports paint a dire picture. The rains will persist, increasing both in duration and intensity for the rest of this month and possibly after.”

A lodge is seen in the flooded Maasai Mara National Reserve, which left dozens of tourists stranded in Narok County, Kenya, May 1, 2024.
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Kenya's weather outlook 'dire' as cyclone nears, president says

While all those caught in this disastrous event are suffering immense hardships, the U.N. refugee agency expresses particular concern about the welfare of thousands of refugees and other displaced people “being forced to escape once again for their lives after their homes were washed away.”

“In Kenya, nearly 20,000 people in the Dadaab refugee camps, which host over 380,000 refugees, have been displaced due to the rising water levels,” said Olga Sarrado Mur, UNHCR spokesperson.

“Many of them are among those who arrived in the past couple of years after severe drought in neighboring Somalia. Some 4,000 people are currently sheltering in six schools with facilities that have been extensively damaged,” she said.

She noted that many of the tens of thousands of refugees in Tanzania, Burundi, and other hard-hit countries in the region have had to relocate multiple times as water levels continue to rise. She said many people are struggling to find shelter, to pay the rent, to earn enough money to feed themselves and their families.

“Climate change is making many parts of the world, especially in fragile regions like East Africa and the Horn of Africa, increasingly uninhabitable,” said Sarrado Mur.

“Storms are more devastating. Wildfires have become commonplace. Floods and droughts are intensifying. Some of these impacts are irreversible and threaten to continue worsening, and displaced people are bearing the brunt of the impact,” she said.

The WMO reports early warning systems are critical in saving lives before natural disasters strike. It says these systems are more crucial than ever to protect people from the extreme weather conditions stemming from human-induced climate change.

“So, on tropical cyclones, we do have very, very good warnings these days in most parts of the world that enable evacuations to take place,” said Nullis, underscoring that early warning systems enable “what we call anticipatory action, which is sort of prepositioning by humanitarian agencies of relief supplies.”

“Thanks to such actions, we have prevented a great loss of life in many regions of the world,” she said.

However, UNHCRs Sarrado Mur observed that “many of the preparations resulting from early warnings often do not reach the most vulnerable communities, including refugees or other displaced communities, which often are in areas that are more exposed to these climate hazards.”

She emphasized the importance of providing funding to vulnerable peoples and the communities hosting them, “so they can be equipped and be prepared, and so they can adapt to this new situation which is unfortunately the new reality.” By Lisa Schlein, VOA

US President Joe Biden arrives on Air Force One at Brindisi International Airport, June 12, 2024, in Brindisi, Italy.
 
U.S. President Joe Biden arrived in Brindisi, Italy, late Wednesday ahead of his meeting with leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized democracies.

He came armed with fresh sanctions for Russia, a new bilateral security agreement for Ukraine, but no breakthrough on Gaza cease-fire negotiations that now sit at a critical juncture.

The United States is working with mediators Egypt and Qatar after reviewing Hamas’ response to the proposal, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Italy early Wednesday.

"Many of the proposed changes are minor and not unanticipated," he said. "Others differ quite substantively from what was outlined in the U.N. Security Council resolution."

As Biden was in flight to Italy, the U.S. Treasury Department announced fresh sanctions that target individuals and companies, including those based in China, that are selling semiconductors to Russia.

It includes an expansion of secondary sanctions that allow the United States to blacklist any bank around the world that does business with Russian financial institutions already facing sanctions. The goal is to prevent smaller banks in China and other countries from funding the Russian war effort.

The sanctions also target networks Russia uses to obtain critical materials for building aerial drones, anti-drone equipment, industrial machinery and for the country's chemical and biological weapons program, the Treasury Department said.

"We are increasing the risk for financial institutions dealing with Russia’s war economy and eliminating paths for evasion, and diminishing Russia’s ability to benefit from access to foreign technology, equipment, software, and IT services," Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.

The Moscow Exchange, Russia’s top financial marketplace, announced it was halting trading of dollars and euros after being listed in the new sanctions.

Biden is also set to sign on Thursday a bilateral security agreement with Ukraine during his meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The agreement is intended to show U.S. resolve to strengthen Ukraine's defense and deterrence capabilities without committing American troops on the Ukrainian battlefield. The agreement would include Ukrainian commitment to reform and on end-use monitoring of U.S.-provided weapons.

It will be Biden’s second meeting with Zelenskyy in the span of days; the two met in Paris on the sidelines of the 80-year commemoration of D-Day last week.

Russian frozen assets

Zelenskyy will be urging G7 leaders to get behind Biden’s plan to provide Kyiv with a loan of up to $50 billion for Ukraine’s war efforts against Russia, amid Moscow’s strategic advances in the battlefield. The U.S. proposal would pay back Western allies using interest income from the $280 billion in Russian assets frozen in Western financial institutions, estimated at $3 billion a year, for 10 years or more.

The goal is a Leaders’ Declaration at the end of the summit, a "framework that is not generic, that is quite specific in terms of what it would entail," Sullivan told VOA as he spoke to reporters in flight. However, "core operational details" would still need to be worked out. It’s unclear whether the loan will be provided by the G7 or only some of its members.

In April, Biden signed legislation to seize the roughly $5 billion in Russian assets that had been immobilized in U.S. financial institutions. But the bulk of the money, $190 billion, is in Belgium and much of the rest, is in France and Germany.

A big source of concern for Europeans is who will be responsible to cover losses should interest rates fall below expectations or if the sanctions that immobilize the funds are not renewed. Russia considers the immobilizing of its assets following its invasion on Ukraine as theft and has threatened retaliation.

Although Ukraine is not a G7 member, this is the second consecutive year Zelenskyy is attending the summit. From Italy, he heads to Switzerland for a Ukraine peace conference over the weekend.

EU puts tariffs on Chinese EVs

Biden imposed a drastic tariff hike in May to confront what he calls Chinese overcapacity in strategic green technologies and has been urging the G7 to do the same.

On Wednesday, the European Union responded to the call by announcing it would slap Chinese electric vehicles (EVs) with higher tariffs, up to 38.1%, saying the imports benefit "heavily from unfair subsidies" and pose a "threat of economic injury" to producers in Europe.

U.S. tariffs on Chinese EVs were quadrupled to a 100% rate, while solar cell and semiconductor import tariffs were doubled to 50%. The rates on certain steel and aluminum imports were tripled to 25%. The additional duties covered $18 billion in Chinese products.

Europe is taking action to address Chinese overcapacity just as the United States has done, Sullivan said. A "common framework" on how to deal with various economic security issues posed by China will likely be included in the G7 final communique, he added.

The punitive moves could prompt retaliation from Beijing, which accuses the West of hyping overcapacity claims to blunt China’s competitive edge.

Biden arrived on the global forum after a family drama. On Tuesday, a day before departing for the summit, his son Hunter Biden was found guilty on federal charges of possessing of a gun while being addicted to drugs.

Biden has said he would not use presidential powers to pardon his son. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to respond to further questions, including the possibility of commuting Hunter Biden’s sentence when it is given by the judge. By Patsy Widakuswara, VOA

Kindiki has mandated National Government Administration Officers (NGAO), supervised by respective County Security Committees(CSC), to establish more temporary shelter points to accommodate the rising number of affected persons.

The government has established 138 temporary shelters across eighteen counties to cater for displaced persons amid flood-related emergencies.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki made the announcement on Saturday in an update on ongoing heavy rains that have caused floods and landslides in parts of the country.

“The camps are hosting 62,061 persons from 14,771 households who are being supported with food and non-food essentials until the floods subside,” he stated.

He highlighted that the camps’ locations had been publicly displayed in government offices including those of; Assistant Chiefs, Chiefs, Assistant County Commissioners, Deputy County Commissioners and County Commissioners.

Kindiki also mandated National Government Administration Officers (NGAO), supervised by respective County Security Committees(CSC), to establish more temporary shelter points to accommodate the rising number of affected persons.

Additionally, he directed security committees across the country to ensure the maintenance of public safety to avoid more casualties.

“CSCs are directed to continuously monitor other dams or water reservoirs within their respective jurisdictions which may not be presenting public safety issues but could do so in the event of rains,” he stated

The committees are required to conduct outreach programs to sensitize the public on disaster preparedness, publicize temporary shelter camps and collaborate with the counties for a coordinated response to emergencies.

The government has directed security agencies to ensure relocation and evacuation of affected persons is done in good time and with respect to the dignity of the affected persons.

Kenya had as of Friday reported 210 deaths as a result of floods and landslides. By Minah Mahero. Capital News

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