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CAA officials tasked to explain role in BoU currency saga

FILE PHOTO: Bank of Uganda

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Civil Aviation Authority –CAA never dealt directly with the Central Bank on matters relating to a chartered plane that was carrying Printed currency notes from abroad.

The clarification came in relation to questionable cargo that was found on a plane chartered to deliver pallets of printed currency notes into the country. Initial reports indicated that the chartered plane landed at Entebbe International Airport on April 27 and was cleared by the URA customs department in the presence of BoU officials, BoU security, aviation security, police and other security agencies.

However, it was reported that instead of the expected 20 pallets, the consignment had 25 pallets. According to a statement released by the Central Bank a week ago, the anomaly was identified during the verification of the consignment. A number of Central Banks officials were arrested in the aftermath.

It has since been reported that the extra cargo belongs to different individuals and organization including businessman Charles Mbire, United Nations, USAID and Omar Mandela, the proprietor of Café Javas.

However, CAA’s Director for Safety, Security and Economic Regulations Eng. Ronny Barongo told a committee of parliament today that the clearance for the flight in question was sought by Astral Aviation Services of Kenya indicating that the plane was carrying printed materials to Uganda.

Eng Barongo and other CAA officials were appearing before Parliament’s Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises Committee (COSASE) to respond to a number of audit queries raised against the authority this morning.

During the engagement, Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda asked CAA what its role was in the procurement process amid reports that the Authority’s officials conspired to clear private cargo on the BoU chartered plane.

Efforts by the CAA Director-General Dr Mpango Kakuba to plead with the committee to avoid discussing the matter were futile. He had argued that it is against the subjudice rule to discuss a matter that is being investigated. But his argument was rejected on account that the matter is not yet before court.

He later told the committee that no official of CAA had been summoned for interrogation over the BoU chartered plane.  However, he asked the Director Airports Eng. Ayub Sooma to explain issues pertaining to clearance of cargo.

Eng. Sooma said that CAA has no role in currency cargo verification and supply chain processes by the Central Bank since the only requirement is a notification about any shipment that is expected in the country. He added that all currency verifications are done at the Central Bank.

Kampala Central MP Muhammad Nsereko insisted that CAA explains to the committee whether it knew what the BoU chartered plane was carrying.

But the Director-General maintained that CAA does not inspect what the Central Bank brings into the country.

Samia-Bugwe North MP Gideon Onyango noted that the different statements from government entities were sending a wrong signal.

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