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KADAGA: Parliament’s hands tied on UTL

 

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Both parliament and the executive can’t take any unilateral decision on the administration of Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL), Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has ruled.

She made the ruling during plenary on Tuesday in response to last week’s request by Aringa South MP, Alioni Yorke Odria to parliament to appoint a Select Committee to inquire into government’s failure to carry out accountability audits in UTL, saying they had been blocked by the administrator, Bemanya Twebaze.

He was supported by Evelyn Anite, the State Minister for Investment and Privatization who told parliament that government, which holds 31 percent shares in UTL, had lost control over the telecom company. She said Twebaze has reportedly blocked the Auditor General John Muwanga and Finance Ministry from auditing the company, saying he can only report to court.

Twebaze, who is the Registrar General of Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), was appointed Administrator of UTL following the exit of Ucom Limited, a Libyan owned firm that owned 69 percent shares in March 2017.  He entered into an Administration Deed and the shareholders ceded to him all their powers to run the company.

Twebaze claims his powers are derived from the insolvency Laws of Uganda that among others require him to work independently of the shareholders and put creditors’ rights at his forefront. In her ruling this afternoon, Kadaga said that she had received a letter from the Administrator dated June 21st, 2019 indicating that he has made progressive reports about UTL to the shareholders.

She noted a series of correspondences in her possession relating to the extension of the period of administration. Kadaga also cited a ruling by High Court Judge Lydia Mugambe under Miscellaneous Cause No. 217, which extended the administration period from 1 year commencing on November 22nd 2018 to November 2019.

She emphasized the need to appreciate circumstances under which, Uganda Telecom was placed under an administrator, arguing that while a Company is under administration according to the Insolvency Act, the Deed is binding on the Company Director, Secretary, Shareholders and all creditors in relation to claims arriving on or before the Deed.

She also noted that according to the law, the supervisor of the Administrator is the High Court and that parliament cannot intervene until November 2019 when the administration period elapses.

Kadaga, however, demanded that government immediately presents to parliament a treasury memorandum of actions taken following an earlier report by a Select Committee chaired by Chwa West MP, Okin Ojara in regard to UTL.

Kadaga’s ruling is in line with Twebaze’s statement, in which he denied blocking any government audit, saying auditing the company’s operations can only happen at the end of his administration period.

He said that final accounts were to be availed for auditing at the end of administration due on November 22nd 2019 and that since the law requires him to make periodic reports every 6 months, these have always been done and shared with court and all creditors.

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