Pens that cost Uganda’s central bank Sh10,000 each


  • In 2016, the Central Bank of Uganda bout 350 pens which cost Sh10, 000 each!
  • MPs have asked the bank to produce the pens and purchase receipts

Ugandans are rich, but I guess you know that already. In case you didn’t, last week’s exposure of what hundreds of them spend to buy a pen is enough to convince you.

Our central bank, the Bank of Uganda, last August bought 350 ball point pens for its guests who were invited for a party to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Each pen cost at least Sh10,000 (yes, that’s Kenyan shillings)! One wonders, do they have auto-correct when you write with them?

But my chemistry teacher used to say that to every rule there is an exception. So, while most of us Ugandans think big and rich, there are still some few fellows trapped in a poverty mindset.

These are mostly Members of Parliament on the Committee on Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase).

Now these poverty-driven MPs on Cosase have apparently never seen a pen that costs Sh10,000 ($100). So they are now insisting that the bank officials go and bring the pens for them to confirm. That is the problem with these poor people.

If you invite guests and give them presents in August 2016, how can you call them back, exactly one year later, and demand that they bring the gift you gave them so that you show it to MPs?

Is that how cultured and well-behaved people behave? After you give somebody a gift and they have said thank you, the matter should end there. You cannot tell them to produce the gift 12 months later so that you show other people that this is what I gave so and so.

These Cosase MPs are even demanding the documents of purchase for the pens. Surely, is that how we do things? When is the last time these MPs bought a gift for someone in a supermarket with the price tags on? Have they forgotten that the first thing you do in such a situation is to scrap off the price tag so that the recipient of the gift does not know how cheap or expensive the gift was?

Well-mannered people do not go around giving you a gift and then attaching the receipt of purchase. But the MPs want the bank officials to produce all the documents calling for supply of pens, invoices, orders, delivery notes and receipts. After the whole world has seen these, do they think the recipients of the gifts will feel happy about their ballpoint pens?

However, whatever the motive of these MPs, the bank officials who bought the pens will not go to prison. Guess what the good news is? The commissioner of Uganda Prisons thinks the pens are rather cheap.

Some other chap who was as angry as the MPs about the Sh10,000 pens furiously asked on social media if there is a place anywhere in Uganda’s prisons for people who buy pens at such a price and tagged the commissioner of prisons.

The good prisons chief answered back promptly, saying his own pen cost him some $150 three years back.

He even named the specific bookshop in Kampala where he bought it, just in case the doubting Thomases thought he had bought it in Switzerland or some expensive place abroad.

Thing is, we are rich but we still have a problem of a few poverty minded people.


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