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Traders In Uganda Strike Over High Interest Rates

KAMPALA: Kampala
traders on Wednesday started their three day sit down strike protesting
commercial banks refusal to lower interest rates on loans given to them.

Traders under their
association Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) accuse
banks of arbitrarily increasing interest rates on
even old loans;
Interest rates on old loans were increased after the
central bank raised its key rate by 10 percentage points to 23 percent in
November. The traders want the Banks to stop charging increased interest rates
on old loans and to refund the monies they say has been illegally collected
from borrowers in form of increased interest rates.

The Central Bank Governor
Tumusiime Mutebile has insisted the Bank of Uganda
cannot intervene, while the Banks have said they will not reduce the interest

By 8:00 pm, the normal
opening time, the Shops in Kampala city center and other surrounding districts
of Masaka and Mityana remained closed. Some traders were seen hanging outside
their shops waiting to hear from their leaders.

Kampala Traders under
their Association (KACITA) announced a three-day closure of shops until
government prevails over commercial banks to lower the interest rates; they
condemn Bank of Uganda for refusing to act on the high interest rates that are biting traders who got loans from banks.

According to KACITA Spokesperson Issa Sekitto, the
traders will not open their shops for three days unless the banks agree to
charge the interest rates that were applying when the traders got the loans.

The traders are also threatening to withdraw money from
their respective banks as a way of showing anger to the banks.


Sekitto says if after the three days the banks have not
changed their mind, KACITA members will meet on the 14th and agree
on the next course of action.

He says traders will go ahead and protest with all
they can against what he calls unfair practice by financial
institutions which have the leeway to increase their lending rates. 

There is heavy Police deployment in different parts of
the city with police officers patrolling on foot and police vehicle on standby
at several streets.


Last year, the same
Kampala traders protested against the increasingly depreciating shilling
against the dollar accusing government of being reluctant to avert the
situation. Traders were finding it hard to trade given the depreciating value
of the shilling against the dollar but they called off planned protest activities
after KCCA promised to restore trade order in the Central Business District.

The traders ‘strike has
attracted many other workers sectors to also start calling off strikes,  Makerere University lecturers have also
threatened to strike in two weeks if the government does not come out with a
position on their top up allowances and paying their arrears.

According to Teopista
Birungi Mayanja, the secretary of UNATU, the teachers who claim are working
under terrible hardships are waiting to hear from the government, if there
their grievances are not responded to , they will again sit down striking , The
teachers demand for an increase in their salary from the current 200,000 to
500,000 Uganda shillings, They are also complaining about the high taxes which are
levied from their meager salaries and want the government to put that into
consideration immediately.

The main opposition
political party, Forum for democratic change has asked the
to respond to the concerns of Kampala city traders and Makerere University lecturers to avoid the
strikes by the two bodies.

FDC spokesperson Wafula Ogutu says if the date given by traders passes when their issues are not
resolved, the party will not hesitate to join the demonstration.


Product Id: 100118
Country: Uganda
Category: Business
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