Friday February 7 2014

MPs: Tumwine must pay for gallery

 Part of Nomo Gallery, which is the subject of contention

Part of Nomo Gallery, which is the subject of contention between Gen Elly Tumwine and the government . Photo by Abubaker Lubowa 

By Yasiin Mugerwa

Parliament- Gen Elly Tumwine was a subject of discussion at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday after it emerged that the Ministry of Finance had directed that he be asked to pay rent arrears accumulated over 28 years during which he has occupied Nommo Gallery, a government facility under the Ministry of Gender.

Gender ministry officials led by Ms Jane Mpagi, an undersecretary, came under pressure to explain why they have not recovered the money from the army representative.

“If this ministry was your house, would you allow Gen Tumwine to occupy it for 28 years without paying a single coin?” said acting PAC chairperson Paul Mwiru.
Ms Mpagi tabled a September 2013 letter from Secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi and another letter from the Auditor General, asking Gen Tumwine to pay rent arrears.

Mr Muhakanizi warned the Uganda National Cultural Centre (UNCC), under which Nommo Gallery falls, that the responsibility of waiving taxes only lay with Parliament.

This matter was first raised in August last year when Gender Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana threatened to evict the General for defaulting on rent.

The General hit back, in a detailed statement published in the Sunday Monitor and denied any wrong doing. Gen Tumwine gave a history of the ownership of the gallery since inception in 1964, revealing that its land title was secured in 2004 and registered in the names of the UNCC.

The NRM historical insisted there is no agreement for rent of the gallery, and that he owes no money in arrears to the ministry.

Lawmakers led by Mr Eddie Kwizera and Mr Joseph Ssewungu demanded that Gen Tumwine pays up.