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Parliament approves Shs 280bn expenditure for new planes

Deputy speaker Jacob Oulanyah

Deputy speaker Jacob Oulanyah

Parliament has approved a government request for a Shs 280 billion supplementary budget to purchase two Bombardier planes from Canada.    

The approval of the funds during a special plenary session today chaired by deputy speaker Jacob Oulanyah, is part of a bigger supplementary expenditure request of Shs 770.2 billion that government tabled before parliament early this month.  

Prior to the approval of the money, legislators adopted a report by parliament’s Budget Committee which recommended that the funds be availed and that the ownership of Uganda National Airlines Company Limited be transferred to Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) - the business arm of government.  

The shareholders of the company approved by parliament are; minister of Works and Transport (1,000,000 ordinary shares) and minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (1,000,000 ordinary shares).  

Parliament also directed that the shareholders appoint a substantive and competent board, not later than 30th April 2019 and that the board members must be subjected to fit and proper test and names presented before the House.  

“In the event this is not done, the House should not appropriate any funds to the activities and operations of the company for the Financial Year 2019/2020. Parliament closely monitors the operations of the company through regular reporting for example by bi-annual reports,” read part of the committee report.   

Budget Committee chairperson, Amos Lugoloobi observed that the current interim company board members are full-time employees of government with extremely busy public offices and that it would be difficult to imagine that the company will have a good footing if it continues being managed by the current board.

The interim board members of the Uganda National Airlines Company Limited are Bageya Waiswa, the ministry of Works and Transport permanent secretary, Secretary to Treasury Keith Muhanikzi, Laban Mbulamuko a commissioner in the ministry of Finance, Bisereko Kyomuhendo, a commissioner in the ministry of Justice and Capt Gad Gasaatura, a retired flight captain.  

Lugoloobi also reported that, Capt Gasaatura who is purported to be the chairperson of the board, has never been registered with the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) in accordance with the law.  

In addition to the committee recommendation regarding the board, Oulanyah said that the substantive board to be named, should appear before a committee of parliament and that the ground handling services should be handed to the Uganda National Airlines Company. Currently, the services are handled National Aviation Services (NAS). Parliament also resolved to have a specific Act on the Uganda National Airlines Company.  

During the debate on the supplementary budget request, a section of legislators called upon government to halt the rush to purchase the aircraft for the revival of Uganda airlines. Buyaga West MP, Barnabas Tinkansimiire argued that much as there are calls for the quick revival of the airline, there is need to wait until the Uganda National Airline Company has sorted out its affairs.  

"We cannot proceed to approve resources when the basics are not clear. For instance, you’re saying we have a commitment, who has this commitment? Is it the company that we have been seeing here that has this commitment of buying the aircraft? People are saying it is Uganda, can we be sure that the invoices are being issued to the government of Uganda when they have not be laid on the floor of the House. If we went ahead to approve resources and later it came out that this company that has from the very beginning almost had 100% ownership is the company that we’re approving money for, what will happen to us?" Tinkasimiire said. 

The reservations about the management of the Uganda National Airline Company arose from several inconsistencies, irregularities and errors regarding the registration and allotment of shares for the company that parliament had detected. Latif Ssebagala, the Kawempe North MP argued that MPs did not need to move in haste before analyzing the management of the company since any mistakes will blow back on the tenth parliament.  

Lwemiyaga County MP, Theodore Ssekikubo argued that the company needs to sort out the basics, which, he says seem to be missing like the Entebbe ground handling services which is a lucrative business that used to belong to the defunct Uganda Airlines.

Ssekikubo said Uganda was being used to enrich one person - Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa. He wondered why government was reviving the airline without gaining the ownership of Entebbe airport first from Kutesa. But the state minister for Finance in charge of Planning, David Bahati said it's a known fact that Ssekikubo has a permanent quarrel with Kutesa and hence his submissions were flawed and not backed by facts. 

Oulanyah went on to calm the MPs' concerns by pointing out that the Budget Committee report had put checks and balances to avert any impropriety. He singled out the recommendation by the committee to transfer the ownership of the company to the UDC.  

He noted that this was a safety valve that should pacify MPs since the committee had suggested that the companies’ budget for the financial year 2019/2020 will not be passed if this is not done. Oulanyah then appealed to MPs to pass the supplementary expenditure since Uganda risked losing $27.7 million that was a deposit payment for the aircraft. 

Following several counter arguments, Oulanyah and the MPs agreed to pass the supplementary request to secure the planes. Meanwhile, the legislators also approved another Shs 12 billion for the payment of ground rent arrears to Kampala Archdiocese for the land leased to Uganda Police Force at Nsambya police barracks.   

The money is meant to enable the Archdiocese to finance the completion of Namugongo Martyrs Shrine in preparation for the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) in July 2019.


Oulanyah questioned the competence of several government officials following the manner in which they handled the registration process of Uganda National Airlines Company. The approval process of the supplementary budget was marred with several errors regarding the ownership of the airlines, with Works and Transport minister Ntege Azuba and Finance minister Matia Kasaija apologising and withdrawing tabled documents because they contained errors. 

"The registration process had gaps, and I regret on behalf of myself, ministry and government. I beg to withdraw those documents" said Azuba before laying before parliament fresh registration documents. Azuba had on Wednesday tabled documents that she claimed proved the ownership of Uganda Airlines.

But after MPs pointing out that the shares had been allotted to ministers Kasaija and Azuba in their individual capacities, she withdrew the documents and sought for a fresh registration process from Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB). 

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 in the entire process. 

"Yes it is clear that there are gross errors. From the speaker’s chair you wonder whether there is a government and people thinking in it. It's so unfortunate that I'm not the president of this country, I would have sacked a few people by now" Oulanyah said amidst applause from the legislators.

On Wednesday, parliament witnessed drama when, Azuba tabled before parliament fresh documents indicating that government had regained full ownership of Uganda National Airlines Limited. The fresh documents showed allotment of 2 million shares worth Shs 200 million to Kasaija and herself as shareholders with 1 million shares each.

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 March 27, 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 as 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. Oulanyah said now that minister Azuba had withdrawn the documents, "they will be expunged from parliament's records and will be treated as though they occupied space that didn't exist."

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.

Oulanyah said from the MPs' submissions, it was clear that there is no objection to reviving the airline and likewise no objection to buying the aircraft. Adding that it is also clear Uganda had to honour its contract with Bombardier and pay outstanding balance of Shs 280bn lest the country risked losing $27.7m that was already deposited. 

He also ruled out forgery of documents on the part of the minister, saying forgery as he understood it, only occurs when he documents that were not meant to be signed are signed or signed by people who are not meant to sign them. He said the minister had admitted to the mistakes and the errors appear not to have been deliberate with fraudulent intent but rather genuine mistakes. 

"There could have been false documents but they could have been filed with mistakes. It is possible to file documents with mistakes," he said. 


0 #1 MR 2019-03-29 18:19
This is how you set up the country for failure. Releasing billions to an entity who's launch has issues with the registered owners and then the B.O.D has not been vetted or approved.

Really then you ask yourself why we are the laughingstock of the World and will never develop.

Now those planes will land at EBB and not operate thus incurring costs with no returns gathering dust then when these people get their act together the planes will need serious servicing just to start operations.
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0 #2 rubangakene 2019-03-29 19:27
Thanx Mr. Oulanyah; "the tortoise has finally shown its head from its shell".

I smell a rat in all these dubious hurry to purchase so many aircraft at once when other airlines are folding up or leasing their planes to other richer airlines.

If we had done due diligence into the purchase of these airlines before hand, we would not have been in this quagmire.

Sack those who forged those signatures. You see these are the same individuals who get the 'mandatory ten per cent' for signing the purchase of same aircraft, not the wanainchi!

It is a very lucrative deal, this ten percent from Bombadier and Boeing companies, citizens beware!
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0 #3 Akot 2019-03-29 19:52
So, Uganda is riche, its population well served so money can be spent like this to show the world what a prosperous developed country it is?

There is money for Museveni's more comfort, tribal leaders payed & blinded & unaware they are foreigners in the tribal lands they still believe belong to them, Bombardier planes for whatever reason, treatment of officials abroad...!

But no one hears of parliament debating & allocating money for: Education, Healthcare, Modernising/Subsidising Agriculture, allocate money for job seekers...!

Why would Ugandans vote in mps again when parliament works for Museveni & help him spend money where it's not necessary, at this stage of Education/development of the country?

Parliament has up to now, helped Museveni mortgage the country; sell off national assets/companies, hand land riches to foreign comopanies to exploit...!...
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+1 #4 Akot 2019-03-29 19:59
...There is money for Museveni & parliament to spend on what they want including their medical care abroad; but there is no money for hospitals or other social services that these demons believe Ugandans don't need?

Why would Ugandans continue legalising sell off of their country & all what belong to them through parliament?

As it is, parliament will finally hand over the country to Museveni officially, legally, constitutionally without any mp seeing it & they will throw a huge party to celebrate it, huging Museveni, praising him for his achievements!

Ugandans, please, no more presidential or parliamentary election as the coming ones will be the final actions Museveni needs to conclude conquest of the country, then render us forever landless idiots with no court of law to run to for help!...
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0 #5 Akot 2019-03-29 20:06
...Without tribal leaders standing down & UNITY to bring an end to this masquarade while parliament helps Museveni conclude conquest of Uganda, formation of Independent Tribal States woule even end all this sell off!

Time Ugandans ask what still belongs to them!

How can Ugandans be so self destructive & help Museveni own their country with such decency, respect, pride...officially, legally, constitutionally, not even asking "what are we doing & why"?

Can any tribal leader impose himself on another tribal land?

So, why is parliament & Ugandans helping Museveni own the country formed by tribal lands?

What will Ugandans do after handing over every tribal land to Museveni?

If we are not robots programmed by Museveni, then I am demned!
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+1 #6 Twebaze Francis 2019-03-29 20:52
It is now certain that Parliament never works for the good of Ugndans.

From the word go our MPs have been self centred: approving and passing only what benefits them as persons.

No wonder this explains why we are undeveloped and we are destined to remain so for very many years to come.
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0 #7 WADADA roger 2019-03-29 21:37
We hope for the best, i also hope the planes are not junk, but as for me and my family, we shall never board that plane, i dont think it is safe
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+1 #8 miki 2019-03-30 05:26
This airline will not be financially viable without the ground handling services as Mr. Sekikubo rightly point out.

It is already a huge financial millstone in the neck of the Ugandan taxpayer right from the word go. Maybe it is just another donation towards expanding Alexander Airline - that company once famously registered under a certain minor (son to a well known UPDF general) at the time.

It is the same company that was gifted one of the two C130 cargo planes that the defunct Uganda airlines once owned.

This Alexander Airline cargo plane featured very prominently in the ferrying of looted war booty from Congo during the dark days when UPDF was involved there. Looks like Alexander just expanded his fleet on the back of the Ugandan tax payer.
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0 #9 Lakwena 2019-04-01 08:29
In other words, since it was incompetence, which liquidated, Uganda Airline, UCB, all the Marketing Boards, the Cooperatives, UTC, etc.; how on earth will incompetence (the incompetent) revive the Uganda Airline?

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+1 #10 Lakwena 2019-04-01 08:56
Because of not thinking and thus putting the cart before the donkey, or thinking (fighting) only for themselves and families; the Uganda Parliament has become a House of Betrayal.

In others words, except false pride and face-saving a raving tyrant, e.g., how many tractors and other farm equipment would Shs 280 billion have afforded, to take back our current 87% unproductive youths off the streets, into a sustainable employment?

Grow more coffee; grow more cotton; grow more tea; Grow more maize, beans, sesame (simsim), grow more food stuff, sunflower, groundnuts, etc.

Are all Ugandans so stupid that it is only whatever Mr. M7 decides that is the right thing? it is sickening.
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