All shares of Uganda Airlines allotted back to govt today — Minister Azuba
PLOT TWIST | Hours after a Minority Report was tabled in Parliament exposing the fact that 99% of shares in Uganda Airlines was held by unknown private individuals, Works and Transport minister Monica Azuba presented a statement indicating that government had repossessed all the shares today (Wednesday).
PARLIAMENT | The government has gained total ownership of Uganda National Airlines Company Limited, Works and Transport minister Monica Azuba has said.
Azuba was forced to make a statement hours after a minority report presented to Parliament indicated that the two ministries of Works and Transport and Finance only owned 0.0001% shares in Uganda Airlines and that the other 99-plus percent shareholding was held by unknown private individuals.
Minister Azuba informed Parliament that as per today (Wednesday), all the shares had been allotted back to government, a revelation that sent shock waves within the August House.
Earlier in the day, Lira Woman MP Joy Atim presented a minority report she co-authored with Kasese Woman MP Winnie Kiiza, revealing that Ugandans only owned 0.0001% shares in soon-to-be-revived Uganda Airlines with the identity of the more than 99% shareholder shrouded in mystery.
Explaining the status of the much touted national carrier, Atim had warned against approving the Shs280 billion government has been clamouring for as part of down payment to take delivery of two Bombardier jets.
“The share capital of Uganda National Airlines Company Limited is Shs200 million divided into two million shares of Shsl00. Of the two million shares, only two shares worth Shs200 belongs to Ministries of Works and Transport, and Finance,” Atim said.
“This makes both ministries to be minority shareholders holding only 0.0001% of the shares. At the moment the owners of the 99.97% shares are unknown”
The legislators had warned until the owners of the company meant to run the airline was known, approval of the monies the government is desperate to have to take delivery of two planes and begin operations of the national carrier must be halted.
The government’s latest position on the status of the airliner left many legislators whistling in disbelief with Jonathan Odur (Erute South) saying that although Ugandans had welcomed the revival of the national carrier, there appears to be conspiracy to commit fraud in reviving it.
“You can see fraud or conspiracy to commit fraud by the information the minister has stated. We don’t have money to procure six aircraft and hand them over to somebody,” he said.
Patrick Nsamba said it was incumbent upon Parliament that the revival is done in an organised manner to benefit Ugandans. He urged government to pick a leaf from Rwanda that owns 99% stake in RwandAir and Ethiopian government that has 100% in its national carrier, saying it would be desirable for Uganda to own 99% shares.
James Waluswaka tasked Minister Azuba to reveal the person who tried to defraud government.
“Who is that person who made the earlier mistake and what administrative sanctions to somebody who made the bad administrative error?” Waluswaka asked.
Arua Municiaplity’s Kasiano Wadri said that an attempt to revive the national airline has been tainted with confusion and contested the document tabled by Azuba, saying information from the Uganda Registration Service Bureau indicated that Uganda only has two shares and challenged the minister to table the document she had talked about to allow Parliament scrutunise its authenticity.
“The taxpayers are being used to procure planes which they don’t have ownership. We are forking out money that Ugandans don’t have shares to,” Wadri said.
Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah concurred with the MPs and asked the Budget Committee to interrogate the documents tabled before Parliament takes final decision on the matter.
Uganda Airlines was started in 1976 by President Idi Amin’s government and took to the skies the following year. It continued carrying the national flag to the world but started limping with heavy debt burden in the 1980s.
By 1990s, the airline could no longer hold in the air as debts over-weighed its engines leading to attempts by Museveni’s government to privatise it in the late 1990s. However, all the firms that expressed interest in buying shares of the national carrier kept pulling out one after the other, leaving only South African Airways at the hangers in Entebbe.
In 1999, the South African side also pulled out, leaving the government holding empty calabash and taking the painful decision to liquidate the airline. Since then, there have been several attempts to revive the airline without success, until the most recent one that is getting closer to the promised land.