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Energy ministry reclaims Amber House with Shs170m arrears

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Amber House in Kampala City centre. PHOTO by Stephen Wandera 

By ISMAIL MUSA LADU

Posted  Thursday, July 3  2014 at  01:00

In Summary

Historical The building has been in existence since 1954.

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KAMPALA.

State minister for Privatisation Aston Kajara, has overseen the handing over of Amber house to ministry of Energy, bringing an end to years of a tenancy row between two ministries - Finance and Energy.
According to Mr Kajara, the decision to hand over the management of the property to the Ministry of Energy was arrived at by Cabinet with the view to provide space for the ministry’s expanded roles.

New departments
Ministry of Energy and Mineral development head of communication Bukenya Matovu, in a statement he issued on Tuesday, said his ministry has created several new structures which provide for establishment of the petroleum directorate, geological survey and mines directorate, among others.
According to Mr Bukenya, the directorates are expected to be in operation in the new financial year—2014/15 and require adequate office space.
He said that is why Cabinet made a decision to transfer Amber House Building to the Enegry ministry from Amber House limited, a public company which owned the property.
Speaking at the handover ceremony on Tuesday, Mr Kajara said there is no score to settle between the two Ministries, implying that any debts or arrears that could have existed between the two have been cancelled. This was in contrast to his earlier claims that ministry of Energy owed Finance Shs4.7 billion in rent arrears.
However, Amber House chairman Stephen Bamwenga said tenants who have not cleared rent, including those who absconded because of the tenancy row between the two ministries, will be forced to pay.
He said: “Tenants who have not paid will not only be thrown out but have their properties locked up. We will also use other legal avenues to recover the money.”
“We expect to collect about Shs75million from tenants whose time has expired, and we will collect another Shs96 million from the tenants whose agreement is running. This amounts to about Shs170 million,” he added.
He continued: “What is clear is that we are not ready to lose any money. We expect to collect all that is due to us.”

About Amber House
Amber house has been in existence since 1954, making it one of the oldest buildings in Kampala
According to Auditor General Report beginning 2011, Amber House budgeted to raise revenue amounting to Shs2 billion but it only raised Shs1 billion. However, management attributed the shortfall to the continued failure by Finance to settle their rental obligations. Parliament then proposed that the Ministry of Energy manages the property so as to save the money it would spend on rent.

iladu@ug.nationmedia.com