The move by Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) to obtain Shs250bn for the acquisition of 446 acres of land to expand the Kampala Industrial Business Park located in Namanve-Mukono district has been rejected by MPs on the Finance Committee.
The team from UIA led by Lawrence Byensi, the Acting Executive Director had appeared before the Committee to present their 2019/2020 projections in the National Budget Framework paper, whose scrutiny is underway ahead of the approval of the national budget in May 2019.
Byensi highlighted a number of unfunded priorities for the Authority among which was the Shs250bn that is meant to be used to purchase more land in Namanve.
He argued that UIA already has 100 applications from investors whose projects are in priority sectors.
A number of MPs threw doubts on the expenditure.
Stephen Mukitale, the Bullisa County MP argued that there is need for Government to prioritize the servicing of the current industrial parks across the country, instead of rushing to acquire more land.
“An industrial park is a serviced industrial park. The water and electricity is an individual thing, let us first understand what a serviced industrial park is. For us to make this work instead of saying investors don’t want to go to Soroti, industrial parks should be in strategic areas not just acquiring land everywhere,” Mukitale said.
He added: “Industrial parks with these cities must also resonate with free economic zones. We need to bring together Government on this issue of industrial parks; otherwise right now investors are struggling to look for electricity, transport. I thought that is most important.”
However, David Bahati, State Minister for Planning in the Ministry of Finance defended the funds arguing that many of the investors have declined to establish their businesses in upcountry industrial parks as they find Namanve convenient for them in terms of transport to the airport among other advantages.
The request by UIA comes at a time when the 2018 Auditor General report pointed out loopholes in the Authority’s accountability where the institution is reported to have failed to implement planned activities worth Shs2.24bn on top of spending funds to a tune of Shs3.82bn in excess above appropriated amount in the budget.