In Uganda, wonders never cease! The latest is a shocking revelation of how government has failed to recover a whopping Shs2.1bn injected in a private hotel where it has zero shares.
Lawmakers on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Tuesday learnt that ministry of finance is yet to recover the money in question it injected in J&M Airport Road Hotel, Entebbe ahead of the Common Wealth Heads of State Meeting (CHOGM) in 2007.
The MPs were interfacing with the officials of the Ministry of Finance to respond to the 30th June 2016 Audit queries raised in the Auditor General’s report.
Documents tabled before the Committee showed that Lawrence Semakula, who was acting as Accountant General at the time, wrote a letter on 4th August 2014 asking the owners of the hotel to provide information on Government’s net worth and shareholding so as to enable the Ministry consolidate its investments in the institution’s financial statements. However, seven years down the road, Government is yet to be issued with a share certificate by the Hotel directors, who argue that the hotel is solely owned by them.
MPs now want the Ministry of Finance to move swiftly and recover the Shs2.1bn.
Goodra Tumusiime Behakanira, Director for J&M Airport Road Hotel wrote to the Ministry of Finance on 24th September 2010 denying knowledge on information regarding Government’s shares.
She said that the transaction was carried and concluded by her late husband Joseph Behakanira, arguing that she had no knowledge about the entire transaction.
She said she needed some bit of time to search and study the documents pertaining to this transaction.
“The late Joseph and I were the only directors of the said company. I cannot make a company resolution alone to allot Government her shareholding at this point in time,” Tumusiime said.
The Ministry promised to continue engaging the shareholders on how to obtain the share certificates/ recover the funds and revealed that the issue has also been forwarded to Solicitor General for guidance on what legal action can be taken to recover the said funds and further management.
Keith Muhakanizi, Secretary to Treasury said that attempts by the Ministry to obtain shares for Government had hit a snug since the hotel hasn’t been in operation.
“The hotel has never operated. We tried our best to get share certificate but we failed,” said Muhakanizi said.
However, his argument claim was rejected by MPs, who informed him that the hotel has been working since the CHOGM summit in 2007.