Tuesday March 22 2011

Ethics Ministry offices locked over unpaid rent

By Isaac Imaka & Annah Nafula

Knight Frank, a property management company, has locked up the Ethics and Integrity Ministry offices over unpaid rent. The Integrity Ministry is housed on the second floor, northern wing of the National Social Security House on Jinja Road and is meant to be paying rent to the National Social Security Fund through Knight Frank. The office was fastened with five padlocks and a chain.

NSSF boss not aware
NSSF Managing Director Richard Byarugaba said he was not aware that the ministry’s offices were locked, saying property matters are handled by the institution’s property managers.

When contacted, an officer at Knight Frank, who refused to reveal his identity, confirmed the incident but refused to comment on the matter, saying it is only his head of department is supposed to comment on the issue. He refused to reveal who his head of department is, and his phone contact.

Although Daily Monitor could not readily establish the amount in arrears the ministry owes NSSF, a source with the ministry who did not want to be named because he is not the official spokesperson, told Daily Monitor that the ministry has not paid rent since June last year.

The source also said the ministry has been running without sufficient funding from the government, adding that most ministry vehicles have also been parked due to shortage of fuel and poor mechanical condition.

The ministry’s dilemma comes a few days after minister, Dr Nsaba Buturo, resigned after the Prime Minister barred ministers affected by the recent court ruling against MPs who ran as independents during the just concluded general elections from transacting business on behalf of the government until their fate is determined by the appointing authority.

When contacted, the Minister in-charge of the Presidency, Ms Beatrice Wabudeya, expressed ignorance on the matter, referring this newspaper to the President’s personal secretary.

Deputy Presidential Private Secretary, Kintu Nyago, also told Daily Monitor that he was not aware of the closure of the ministry’s offices.
Although she was not aware of the developments by press time, Information Minister Kabakumba Mastiko said the ministry will not be homeless. “They will go back to the mother ministry (Office of the Presidency). Her efforts to reach the government departments concerned with the issue were futile. “I cannot track the people who are in charge; the permanent secretary Alex Okello is not available and the rest are not aware,” she said.