Monday August 25 2014

Umeme tasks MPs to explain shares

Mr Henry Rugamba the Umeme head of communications

Mr Henry Rugamba the Umeme head of communications, addresses clients in Kampala last Friday. PHOTO BY STEPHEN OTAGE 

By Stephen Otage

As investigations into National Social Security Fund (NSSF) pick up, Umeme has tasked Parliament to explain why it bought its shares.
The electricity distributor wants Parliament to tell the public if it was also coerced into buying the shares “the way MPs are portraying the transaction between Umeme and the NSSF”.

“Let them tell us how their own pension funds ended up buying the Umeme shares. NSSF has invested heavily in Safaricom, a foreign company. Do they want to say Kenyans came and coerced them?” Mr Henry Rugamba, the Umeme head of communications, said last Friday in a meeting with their customers.

Umeme is currently in the spotlight as MPs question the purchase of its shares by NSSF.

Late last year, legislators also passed a resolution to have the company contract in Uganda withdrawn over poor services.

Mr Rugamba further told the customers that Parliament is witch hunting Umeme and wants to keep portraying it as a company owned by greedy investors by faulting NSSF for purchasing Umeme shares yet Parliament’s own Pension scheme is among the shareholders who have so far earned more than Shs100m within one year.

“Parliament should be happy that Umeme became a successful company in 2012 and is now attracting foreign investment companies. It is an achievement that should not be underestimated,” he said.

“NSSF decided to invest the workers’ money and it turned out their best investment and it was a transparent process unlike Nsimbe where there were backroom deals. If NSSF did not buy shares from Umeme, somebody else would have bought them,” Mr Rugamba added.

“Umeme’s shares were oversubscribed by 38 per cent and it was even voted as the best African company with an initial public offer.”

Parliament reacts
The Clerk to Parliament, Ms Jennifer Kibirige, however, said Mr Rugamba’s statement is blackmail, saying Parliament is not concerned about where their pension is invested but what they are after is profits. “We have an investments manager and the custodian of our money.

When the investments manager gets where to invest the money, he goes to the custodian and gets the money to invest and returns the profits and when it accumulates, the board of trustees decides whether to re-invest it,” Ms Kibirige said on telephone yesterday.