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New planes: Oulanyah questions competence of gov’t officials

FILE PHOTO: Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah has today questioned the competence of several government officials following the manner in which they handled the registration process of Uganda National Airlines Company.

This was during the debate by Members of Parliament on a supplementary budget request of Shillings 280 billion to purchase two bombardier planes from Canada.

The approval process of the supplementary budget was marred with several errors regarding the ownership of the Uganda National Airlines Company.

With MPs questioning the seriousness of government in the matter of the National Carrier, Oulanyah interjected saying that there was need to admit that there have been gross errors wondering whether there is a government.

“From the Speaker’s Chair, you wonder if there is a government and there are people thinking in it. We wouldn’t be in this situation,” said Oulanyah in part.

He added that it was unfortunate that he is not the President because he would have sacked a few people. The Deputy Speaker made the statement amidst applause from legislators.

On Wednesday, Parliament witnessed drama when the Works and Transport Minister, Monica Ntege Azuba tabled before parliament fresh documents indicating that government had regained full ownership of Uganda National Airlines Limited. The fresh documents showed allocation of 2 million shares worth 200 million Shillings to Matia Kasaija, the Finance Minister and Works and Transport Minister Monica Ntege Azuba  as shareholders with 1 million shares for each shareholder.

This came just a day after a minority report was presented to parliament by Kasese Woman MP Winfred Kiiza and Lira Woman MP Joy Atim Ongom in which they indicated that 99.9% of the shares of the company did not belong to government and belong to an unknown individual.

With this controversy, Oulanyah on Wednesday afternoon tasked the Budget Committee to scrutinize documents presented by Azuba which 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 on 27th March 2019.

The scrutiny of the documents by the Committee chaired by Ntenjeru North MP Amos Lugoloobi revealed that both Finance and Transport Ministers had not provided effective oversight and leadership regarding the ownership of the Company. It was reported that having their individual names as Monica Ntege Azuba and Matia Kasaija as shareholders was contrary to the Memorandum and Articles of Association, where the shareholders are clearly indicated as Minister of Works and Transport and the Minister of Finance Planning and Economic Development.

The committee further reported that the allotment of shares was signed by the Minister Monica Ntege Aatba), one of the Shareholders, which is irregular especially where the company had previously appointed directors.

“On the advice of the Registrar General of the URSB, the shareholders admitted that the allotments made on 11th July 2018 and 26th March 2019 were irregular and cannot be sustained. Upon the instruction of the Committee, the Minister subsequently tabled before the Committee a new Special Resolution of the company and return of allotment of shares,” read part of the committee report.

With this update report made to parliament today, Azuba took to the floor and apologized for the mistakes in her earlier documents and Oulanyah directed that they are expunged from the record of parliament.

Despite demands by a section of MPs to halt the approval of the supplementary budget until parliament is sure that no financial loss would be caused, Oulanyah appealed to them citing contractual obligations that Uganda had with the manufacturer of the planes if money is not to be paid in the agreed time.

The Deputy Speaker managed to have MPs agree to approve the supplementary expenditure since Uganda risked losing US Dollars 27.7 million that was a deposit payment made earlier.

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