The meeting held between the MPs on the Budget Committee alongside officials from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Works, Uganda National Airlines Company Limited and Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB)on Thursday unearthed fresh details regarding the ownership of the national airline.
The meeting turned dramatic after the Committee learnt that the Minister of Works, Monicah Azuba had stealthily withdrawn documents she had tabled before Parliament yesterday that had indicated that Government owned the airline 100%.
The confusion saw all the officials put on oath and further interrogation of the documents revealed that although the company’s shares had been allotted on 11th July 2018, the public shares were registered in the names of Matia Kasaija, the Minister of Finance and his Works and Transport counterpart, Monicah Azuba instead of the shares being recorded in the name of their respective Ministries.
Bemanya Twebaze, Registrar General, Uganda Registration Service Bureau clarified on the matter saying it isn’t unique for companies at first registration to have one share as had been the case with Government, and that this can be rectified by allotting shares after the company takes off.
He said: “This is the clerical error, it doesn’t challenge the substance of the owner.”
Although Bemanya’s office was the one the certified the document that Azuba tabled before Parliament, he admitted the certification was in error because the company allotted shares on 11th July 2018 with Government fully owning the company under representation from the Minister of Works and Minister of Finance.
“Subject to the errors, when you allotted all the shares, you can’t do a second allotment. These two million shares the subsequent allotment isn’t of no legal consequences because you allot once in the life of a company. Ignore yesterday’s allotment because it is of no legal consequences,” he said.
However, his statement was rejected by Amos Lugoloobi, Chairperson Budget Committee who fired back; “They allotted shares to Kasaija and Azuba, how can you say this is a clerical error? If that is in error it is fair you admit.”
Asked if the document was sustainable, Bemanya said “It is, subject to being corrected. I am saying this in context of powers of registrar. The law gives registrar powers to correct documents.”
The apologies weren’t enough to sway the MPs with Joy Atim, the Lira Woman MP accusing the officials of doing things deliberately and asked what would have happened if the Committee had simply glossed over the documents regarding ownership of the company.
She said: “We are talking to a whole registrar general whom we feel knows importance of documents, who owns this company. What were the intentions in these things?”
The Committee ordered the team to harmonise their documents ahead of the plenary sitting that is meant to convene and debate on the report that recommends to have the Shs280bn meant for the purchase of the two bombardier jets.
Winfred Kiiza, the Kasese Woman MP said that there is need for the Ministry of Works to confirm whether the bombardier Government is set to purchase are new after information that the aircrafts are overhauled bombardiers.
She also called on the Works and Finance Ministries to cleans up the company before the airline goes into business arguing; “I am worried that the Directors of the Company didn’t know that they allotted shares when you see chairman and Company Secretary and means they aren’t in control of the company they are managing.”
She said: “It indicates that the administration of the company from the word go is having issues. You have a lot of work to do to ensure that taxpayers money doesn’t go to waste, from the way things are they are bad. We don’t want to be seen as blocking government from bringing airline it would be better for company to be put under Uganda Development Corporation.”