Paul Alexander Ferguson, the proprietor of Hairy Lemon Island and Eco lodge in Kayunga district is seeking Shs 3.1 billion to enable him re-establish his business elsewhere when Isimba dam eventually floods his premises.
The South African national presented his request when he appeared together with his business partner, Nicole Martin before the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire-led Land Probe Commission.
Ferguson explained that the Shs 3.1 billion (about $810,500) they are seeking, is not an entitlement but a request to the Ugandan government to extend them a favour to re-establish their business that will be destroyed by the artificial floods.
Hairy Lemon Island and Eco Lodge joins a list of other firms that were compensated for the Isimba dam project only to make a u-turn and demand for additional money. Records before the Commission show that Ferguson's firm received Shs 800 million about three years ago as compensation for buildings, farmland and trees sitting on 17 acres of land.
Asked to justify his request for additional money, Ferguson said that the 'reinvestment request' would enable him establish a full-package tour & travel school and empower students with the requisite skills.
"Our new facility that we intend to build will take school leavers and give them education beyond school. It will teach them skills and train them to a level where they will be able to produce an income for themselves and their family after leaving our facility." said Ferguson.
He explained that ministry of Energy has directed his firm on different occasions to submit documentation showing their income and turn over for the past four years with a view of ascertaining their demand.
But John Bosco Suuza, the land probe lead counsel delved into the firm's 2016/2017 financial year statement, saying it made Shs 309 million and Shs 6.4 million tax returns was made to Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) whose payment was not even immediate but deferred.
Suuza wondered whether the business has been profitable for Ferguson and whether government was benefiting from it.
"Has the government of Uganda been benefiting from your business?...I just want to know how have we been benefiting from your business to warranty any special consideration for you?" Suuza asked.
In his response, Ferguson, said his firm was a small business and that their turnover has shown a tremendous growth over time. He said that besides employing 12 Ugandans at the affected business, they have constructed a not-for-profit school at Kilindi for the benefit of the community with a population of 480-pupils.
Byenkya further asked Ferguson whether his firm had benefited from incentives when offered an investment license. Ferguson said that he had been accorded duty free tax for his vehicle that he brought in from Tanzania and commended Uganda for the incentives and the Shs 800 million they received as compensation for his land contrary to the bad experience he encountered in Tanzania when his aviation business was closed without explanation forcing him to relocate to Uganda in 2010.
Justice Bamugemereire directed Ferguson to submit the firm's audited book of accounts to help in investigations.