Saturday, April 4, 2015

I'm Poor - Sh42m A Week Can't Feed My Family

Two weeks ago, this is what he told court. “I can be called a poor man. I don’t have the money to support my family...”

I’ve had to cut his statement short because, The Free Dictionary on Google is spewing out the definition of ‘poor’ which, it defines as: “Having insufficient wealth to meet the necessities or comforts of life or to live in a manner considered acceptable to society.”

Definition digested? We continue? The poor man is the Russian, Sergei Pugachev, once labelled ‘Vladimir Putin’s banker’ and who, is fighting a worldwide freeze on his $2 billion assets imposed by a London court at the request of officials in Moscow. Pugachev supposedly made his fortune siphoning off $1 billion in funds from Mezhprom Bank, which filed for insolvency in 2010.

When all your dime - $2 billion of it, is frozen by the courts, Pugachev must be justifiably poor because he has no income coming in. But wait a minute. The courts have not hung him out to dry, nor thrown him, his wife and kids onto the streets without a dime.

Rather, they told him: “Hey Pugachev, don’t worry about the Russian officials. This is London. We won’t seize your £12 million valued house, so carry on living in it. Plus we will also give you £10,000 (sh42m) a week to live on. Considering your (once) wealth, it’s not much, but with adjustments here and there, you can make do on it - can’t you?”

Are they nuts?! He screamed poverty because he can’t make ends meet and you better be holding on to your underpants and knickers for his reasoning. You see, a £10,000 a week, grace-of-court allowance, is not enough to pay for his two house-ee’s, three nannies, two drivers and wait for it, wait for it - a live-in doctor. Yes, you read right - a live-in doctor.

But Sergei, if you got rid of Driver, Nanny, Doctor and House-ee, it would save you money. Plus, why not sell off the house, buy one that’s cheaper and pocket the change?

Here, we have people who live on less than 20k-a-week, but pay rent, get to work, eat one meal a day and may have sh200 left over for one luxury – a tot pack of Royal Vodka.

If Ugandan Mullah found himself in a situation where the High Court froze his assets but was given sh42m a week to live on, would he also cry poverty? Of course he would as he tries to comprehend a ‘miserable life’ on what was once pocket change.

However Mullah, this would be your new lifestyle. There would be more rolling of the dice at Kampala Casino’s roulette tables or flying British Airways but Egypt Air. No going to Sheraton Hotel for Sunday brunch or splashing out sh10m to buy a CD that some dreadlocked ganja smoking Rasta hobbling about on one crutch is launching in Hotel Africana’s car park.

Out go the sh400m+ Mercedes, Range Rover Sport and X5 for a sh12m Toyota Premio from the bond. The 8k+ beer at Serena will be swapped for 3k beer at Nampeera’s. The Kololo mansion would be vacated for a house in Najjera at not more than sh1.5m a month. And no more splashing $4,000 per term for your very daft kids to go to international schools but, sh800,000 at a local school like Buganda Road.

If you still cry sh42m-a-week is poverty money, I’ll take you to the slums of Katanga and Kikubamutwe, where families, who given the chance to live on a mere 40k a week, would think Easter has come early and be deemed a Sudhir, a Wava or Mbire, to envied by their really pitiful neighbours who only earn 5k-a-week.