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MPs quiz Kasaija, URSB officials on ownership of Uganda airlines

FILE PHOTO: Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Parliament’s Budget Committee has directed Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) to redraft documents relating to the company and its shareholders.

The directive by the Committee Chaired by Ntenjeru North MP Amos Lugoloobi followed a meeting between legislators, Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija, Works and Transport Minister Monica Azuba Ntege and officials from Uganda National Airlines Company Limited as well as Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB).

Representing Uganda National Airlines in the meeting was Capt. Gad Gasatura the Chairman of the Board, Company Secretary Bisereko Kyomuhendo and the Chief Executive Officer Ephraim Bagyenda.

In the meeting, documents tabled before parliament on Wednesday by Minister Azuba were being scrutinized, all officials were put on oath by legislators as they sought answers concerning the ownership of the national carrier.

Azuba presented the documents showing government’s full ownership of the company to counter earlier revelations on Tuesday by a minority report that 99.9% of the shares of the company did not belong to government. The fresh documents showed allotment of 2 million shares worth 200 million Shillings to the Finance and Works ministers as shareholders with 1 million shares for each shareholder.

The documents that were being scrutinized included the return of allotment of shares for Uganda National Airlines Company, the Notification of Appointment of Director and Secretary of Company, Certificate of Incorporation and Memorandum of Articles of Association. All these documents had been certified by Uganda Registration Services Bureau.

As MPs raised queries concerning the documents, URSB’s Registrar General Bemanya Twebaze admitted to errors in the document of return of allotment of shares for Uganda National Airlines Company. Bemanya also revealed that the allotment of shares was already done on the 11th July 2018 and therefore documents presented to Parliament by the Works Minister were null and void since there can only be one allotment of shares in the history of a company.

He also observed that the names of the ministers as shareholders should have been followed by their portfolios as cabinet members of the Republic of Uganda.

His admission followed a red flag raised by Lugoloobi who questioned the allotment of shares to individuals and the manner in which they were authorized. The shares had been allotted in individual names of Monica Azuba and Matia Kasaija.

Lugoloobi said that there seemed to be a serious problem at the URSB registry regarding the airline saying that if there was no problem; parliament would not be having this mess. He added that the errors pose serious questions regarding the capacity of the government to operate the airline.

Lugoloobi together with other legislators noted that the resolution to allotment of shares was not signed by the Company Secretary or a Director of the Company.

Usuk County MP Peter Ogwang demanded for an apology from Kasaija and Azuba for delaying the process of a serious project and embarrassing the country even before it takes off.

Kasaija apologized to the committee citing a need to carry out all processes smartly. He re-affirmed that government owns all the 200 million shares in the Uganda National Airlines Company explaining that at the time of incorporation, the two shares were allotted to the ministers leaving the rest for future allotment pending capitalization of the company.

Lugoobi ruled that the ministers and the Board of Uganda National Airlines Company as well as the Registrar general sit together and rectify the mistakes before the matter is debated in plenary.

Government is seeking approval of 280 Billion Shillings to purchase two Bombardier planes from Canada.

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