MILESTONE! Min. Kasaija roars as Housing Finance Bank joins Postbank, UDB on BOU’s ‘Sustainability Standards and Certification Initiative’ list

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija (M) flanked by BoU deputy Governor Micheal Atingi-Ego (1st left), Arshad Rab (1st right), other stakeholders in a group photo

By Moses Oketayot

The Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development Matia Kasaija has urged the banking industry to create sustainable solutions that promote socio-economic development of people and the country as a whole.

“Let us seek solutions for everyone. We must work to ensure that we leave no one behind, as the saying goes it is possible but we must be deliberate, resolute and speedy in all what we do,” Kasaija said.

He made these remarks at the launch of the Sustainability Standards and Certification Initiative at Kampala Serena Hotel last Friday, where Housing Finance Bank, Post Bank and Uganda Development Bank were enlisted to the initiative.

The Minister said it is a shame that with all the resources Uganda has, there is still looming unemployment especially among the youth that form the biggest percentage of the population.

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija appends his signature on the SSCI program on Friday

He cited the exodus of Ugandans travelling abroad for odd jobs, many of whom he says are professionals but lack jobs in the country.

Michael Atingi-Ego, the Deputy Governor Bank of Uganda said that they envisaged that through the SSCI initiative they would institutionalise an ESG framework in BoU following a comprehensive, methodical and well-structured approach with clear metrics for gauging success.

Ating-Ego also stressed that sustainability certification will provide the impetus for the integration of environmental, social and governance criteria in the way the banking industry conducts business for the lasting benefit of all stakeholders.

“We can’t be a bank that looks inwardly. We are talking about living our mandate as a purpose-driven bank where we enable home ownership and financial independence.

“We acknowledge our leadership role and the rich history in terms of supporting and promoting housing in this country, and we are cognizant of the fact that housing has one of the longest value chain, and these are the points where we can embed and entrench sustainability in terms of being a bank that cares about the environment, by embedding green products like renewable energy,” Michael Mugabi, the Managing Director Housing Finance Bank said.

Mugabi also underscored the need to ease access to credit from financial institutions to the youthful, and entrepreneurial population which he says is still a challenge at the moment because most of them lack collateral.

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, BoU deputy governor Michael Atingi-Ego, Arshad Rab of ICSSVDFI other officials last Friday

HFB recently launched a new five year strategic plan, and did it with sustainability firmly entrenched at the core of its objectives and activities.

Julius Kakeeto, the Managing Director Post Bank said that it is a bad thing for bankers to make money at the expense of destroying the environment, and squeezing the community where the banks operate, but they should do it with consideration for the green environment by upholding the governance standards possible.

When asked about how safe their online banking system is, Kakeeto had this to say: “Cyber security is a challenge across the banking industry, and it is a risk that as long as you operate financial services, and you are relying on technological platforms, it is a risk you face 24 hours, and we (Post Bank) have invested a lot in technology trying to have the best defence mechanism, platforms to counter or prevent any form of penetration or minimise as much as possible cyber risk fraud.”

The Sustainability Standards and Certification Initiative (SSCI) is a brainchild of the EOSD intended at delivering a holistic, robust, evolving, and locally sensitive set of standards to make value-driven financial institutions more resilient and profitable.

Arshad Rab, the Chairman International Council of Sustainability Standards and CEO of the European Organization for Sustainable Development (EOSD), noted that the SSCI is the world’s most comprehensive framework that will make the financial sector the driver of building new economies.

“SSCI financial institutions under the patronage of the Bank of Uganda, which itself is embarking on a historic and exemplary sustainability certification journey, will be equipped with a holistic framework to transform the Ugandan economy from a low tech and low value added to a high tech and high value added economy,” he said.

About Post Author