Kadaga blames banking institutions for misleading MPs who are often taken by surprise at the willingness to provide them with huge sums of money at short notice when they have just gone through costly campaigns. But the speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, says that she attempted to advise MPs to live within their means but she was rebutted and that as a result many MPs are now at the mercy of loan sharks and banks.
I quote from the wall of one of my face book friends. This post by my friend got me thinking about the time I read in the media that following the negative image that bankers have acquired worldwide as being responsible for the financial crisis, a man sought a court injunction stopping people from referring to him as a banker. As I contemplate the actions of this man who chose to distance himself from banks, bankers and the banking profession as a whole, I kind of see where the speaker is coming from.
You see, like many in Uganda, in the past, I had not paid close attention to the bank charges that my bankers charge me and I did learn a painful lesson. One time I noticed that the balance that I expected to have been on my account was lower than I thought it should be, so I decided to request for bank statements from my bankers covering the whole of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011. I then did a cursory study of the bank charges I was charged and to my utter surprise, I found that during a seven month period, July 2010 to January 2011, the monthly bank charges more than doubled.
This motivated me to do a detailed study of the bank charges and noted that my bank charged me for both outward transactions of money coming out of my account and for inward transactions of money coming into my account. The charges on outward transactions included: ATM withdrawal, cashing cheques at the counter, cheques drawn from account, and internal transfers to client’s other account within the bank. The charges on inward transactions included: other cheque deposit, counter cash deposit, telegraphic transfers from another bank into bank account, and internal transfer from client’s other account within the bank.
Of all the charges, only the ATM charges were clear for they were automatically charged per ATM cash withdrawal. The others were charged out in form of a fixed monthly service charge of UGX 10,000 and what was referred to as transaction charge which varied monthly. The monthly service charge was not new to me, for since I opened the account three years prior it had been charged. I had assumed that the service fee was justified on grounds that it covers such costs as the monthly transactions on the account. That is why the new transaction charges were not clear to me.
So to seek clarity, I went to one of the managers one of the bank branches that I frequented. I asked him to explain to me how the transaction charges were arrived at and he told me that it was UGX 1,500 per transaction. Then in rapid succession I asked: So, what is the service fee or? So, does it mean that the bank charges me twice, when I move money from one of my bank accounts in the same bank? So, does it mean the bank charges me for bringing money into the bank (all the charges on inward transactions)? I noticed from the facial expressions of the branch manager that he too found this charging system quite baffling. He, however, had an escape route for he explained to me that the was ‘new’ on the job and that the charges on my account were done before he had joined the bank. He however promised to forward my queries to be ‘handled’ by the bank’s audit department.
I waited for feed back from the audit department in vain. Shortly after my complaint, the bank reverted back to only charging one of the monthly fees, the transaction fee and it did not charge the service fee at the same time. I had falsely hoped that the bank would decide to refund me either the UGX 70,000 which it took from me as bank charges or UGX 51,000 which it took from me as transaction charges during the seven month period. It never did to the day that I closed all my accounts with it. So, I made triple losses – account opening charges, exorbitant charges during the time the accounts were open, and UGX 20,000 for closing each of the three bank accounts!
Lesson 1: It is important for one to pay attention to what bankers are doing with the money that one has given the bankers to hold in trust. Clearly, if one does not do so, one is bound to pay for it, as I did.
Lesson 2: It is even more important for one to pay particular attention to what bankers are charging for lending them other people’s money.
So, when I hear people opening bank accounts, in order to collect prize winnings of UGX 50,000 or less; or that members of parliament are rushing to acquire loans from banks; or that people are rushing to transfer their loans from one bank to another; I wonder if they have taken the time to know they banker!
Obviously, our MPs do not take the time to know thy banker. They colluded with the executive arm of the Government of Uganda to take billions from the government coffers to pay off their bad debts. Clearly these members of parliament without money sense and who are stealing from government coffers in broad day light to leverage a lifestyle beyond their means shouldn’t be in the position accorded the prefix ‘honourable’. After all, very soon when the debt collectors catch up with them, they will be frog jumped out of parliament.