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Budget committee approves UGX 280BN for Uganda Airlines

FILE PHOTO: Uganda Airlines

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Budget Committee of parliament has approved a supplementary budget of Shillings 280 billion to enable government secure the delivery of two bombardiers from Canada.

In his report to parliament, the Budget Committee chairperson, Amos Lugoloobi, the Committee also approved another Shillings 12 billion for the payment of ground rent arrears to Kampala Archdiocese for the land leased to Uganda Police Force at Nsambya Police Barracks.

The money is meant to enable the diocese to finance the completion of Namugongo Martyrs Shrine in preparation for the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) in July 2019.

Lugoloobi told parliament that considering the urgency associated with the procurement of the two bombardier planes, his committee took a decision to prepare and present a separate report for the items while the process of scrutinizing the remaining expenditure requests is still ongoing.

The items are part of the bigger supplementary expenditure budget request of Shillings 770.2 billion that government presented early this month.

The pending requests include the Shillings 380 billion needed to cater for classified expenditures under the Defense Ministry, Shillings 3 billion to compensate Buganda Kingdom land, Shillings 10.3 billion to purchase Okello House, Shillings 10.8 billion for the construction of a Centre of Excellence in Pediatric Surgery in Entebbe and others.

According to Lugoloobi, the approved supplementary expenditures for the planes and Uganda Martyrs shall be financed through the additional revenue release in the Financial Year 2018/2019 and proceeds from the renewal of the MTN license (US Dollars 60 million) and Capital gains tax resulting from the sale of Tullow Assets to Total E&P Uganda (US Dollars 15 million) respectively.

He justified the approval of Shillings 280 billion for Uganda National Airlines, saying failure to pay would result in severe penalties and damages against Uganda.

The committee recommended that Uganda National Airlines Company Limited should allocate shares to the Works and Finance Ministries and at an appropriate time divest them to the public on the stock market.

Lugoloobi also justified the approval of Shillings 12 billion for the Catholic Church.

Two opposition MPs authored a minority report appealing to parliament to reject the approved supplementary budget requests.

Kasese Woman MP, Winfred Kiiza and Lira Woman MP, Joy Atim Ongom informed parliament of a number of irregularities that need to be addressed before the supplementary can be approved.

Ongom demanded that government first tables before parliament proof regarding ownership of Uganda Airlines as well as amending the Memorandum of Understanding for government to be allocated majority shares that can be later float to the public.

“The share capital of Uganda National Airlines Company Limited is 200 million divided into 2 million shares. Of the 2 million shares only 2 shares worth UGX 200 to Minister of Works and Transport as well as Ministry of Finance. This makes both ministries to be minority shareholders holding only 0.0001% of the shares. At the moment the owners of the 99.9% shares are unknown. The owners will only be determined when the Directors decide to allocate the shores. lt was asserted that the majority shores will be floated to the public,” said Ongom.

She also questioned the appointment of Secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi and Bageya Waiswa as Directors of Uganda National Airlines Limited in their individual capacity.

The Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah adjourned debate on both reports to Wednesday.

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