Uganda National Journalism Awards 2015 – Business journalism finalists

Honourable mentionHuge drug firms leave poor traders in the cold by Rachael Ninsiima, The Observer

Runner-upReeling with the successes and challenges of metal scrap industry in Uganda by John Isingoma, WeInformer.net

**Winner – Government stops guaranteeing bank loans by John Semakula and John Masaba, New Vision

John SemakulaJohn Semakula is a senior journalist working with the weekend newspapers at New Vision. He graduated with a degree in journalism of Uganda Christian University, Mukono in 2006. His first job in journalism was as a freelance reporter for Daily Monitor and later for New Vision. In 2010 he became a full-time staff writer for New Vision. John Masaba has been in the business of news gathering, reporting and subediting for the last five years. He worked as a sub-editor at New Vision for six months before being assigned writing jobs in news, features and analysis.

The story: After the government payroll was decentralized at the beginning of the 2014/15 financial year, government stopped guaranteeing public officers who were seeking salary loans. As a result, financial institutions raised the bar on who could access loans by demanding for security, like land titles, from civil servants. For many in the public sector this was a surprise. They had no security, no backing and the number of civil servants seeking salary loans sharply declined. The financial institutions were also on the losing side because for a number of them, salary loans were major financial instruments.

Through all this, the government was silent. Saturday Vision reporters, John Masaba and John Semakula, investigated the matter to uncover the winners, losers and key policy drivers. Following the publication of the story, government went public with its assessment of the situation, going even as far as allowing Chief Administrative Officers permission to guarantee public officers who wanted salary loans.

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