Efforts by Uganda Government to revamp the struggling Uganda Telecom Ltd (UTL) have hit another setback after Minister of State in charge of Investments, Evenly Anite admitting that Government has lost control over Uganda’s oldest telecom firm.
Making the shocking confession during today’s plenary sitting, Anite who looked shocked herself said Government auditors barred them from looking into the financial performance of the company.
“I am afraid to announce that watchman has stopped us, we can’t go to UTL to audit, we don’t know what’s happening. We can’t know how much money company is making,” Anite said.
The Minister’s revelation followed a complaint raised by MP Steven Ariong, who said the appointment of the Registrar General at Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), Bemanya Twebaze (in featured photo) to act as the Administrator General pending approval of an investor after that Libyan investors pulled out of the ailing company in February 2017, there are no signs of recovery.
According to Ariong, following the appointment of the Administrator General, UTL’s liabilities have shot to Shs534bn from creditors, pensioners and loans among others.
Anite admitted that all issues raised about UTL are true and was grateful that the subject of the rot in UTL was being discussed by Parliament.
“As Minister of Investment, who is holding 31% shares in trust, I must report to this House that what members have raised is true. We had meeting with Attorney General to try get way forward from Administrator on how UTL is being run,” said Anite
She told Parliament that in January, Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija wrote letter to Auditor General, John Muwanga demanding to audit UTL from the time the company was put under Administration on 1st April 2017.
“He (Auditor General) wrote back saying he is unable to audit this company. As Minister responsible, I know that this company belongs to Ugandans but I can’t be allowed access. We even suggested we get an internal auditor but the Administrator said he can’t allow internal auditors and he can only account to the court,” Anite revealed.
She added: “We had nothing to do and in this meeting with the Attorney General, he said we should allow him consult books of law on whether we can walk in [and] audit. We now don’t know the status of the company and how it’s operating. It is just clear workers have been fired from UTL. Technically we have lost control of the company.”
Felix Okot, the Dokolo South County MP reminded Parliament that the issue of UTL had earlier been handled by Parliament with the Committee report listing a number of recommendations and castigated the Executive for ignoring Parliament recommendations.
“UTL used to belong to government but the way it was sold was mafia way, how it is being run, mafia style. Government never acted on recommendation of Parliament. We can’t tell these people who don’t respect Parliament to do what they want. Why are we being treated like Parliament is a toilet. The way they have stolen UTL is a shame,” he said.
Dokolo Woman MP, Cecilia Ogwal called for cancellation of contract of the Administrator General saying he has deliberately failed to carry out his duties saying since the receivership, Government passed a decision compelling all Government entities to purchase data, voice from UTL, a decision that would see UTL raise Shs20bn in revenue monthly.
Anite also told Parliament that when Government advertised looking for investors to take over UTL, over 17 investors expressed interest and subjected companies through financial intelligence with Government of Mauritius owned Mauritius Technology emerging winner with heaviest muscles to run UTL, but it was sidelined for another company Teleology having presented higher proposal of money to invest in company although the company’s financial muscles remained mystery.
As much as the company presented glossy proposal to inject USD70M in UTL, they failed to raise even a single dollar a project that proved a white elephant, prompting Government to go back to the market to look for an investor.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga asked for time to study the document presented by MP Ariong and give a ruling on the matter on Tuesday.