Govt owes Shs64b to Umeme in power bills

Friday May 6 2016

A Umeme metering technician shows how a

A Umeme metering technician shows how a pre-paid meter works. Umeme is supposed to instal pre-paid meters in government agencies. PHOTO BY STEPHEN OTAGE 

By NELSON WESONGA

Kampala.

Government owes electricity distributor Umeme Uganda Limited Shs64.17 billion for power used by some departments, Daily Monitor has learnt.
Umeme needs the money to pay for the bulk of electricity it buys from the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL).
On the other hand, UETCL needs the money to pay the different power generation companies.
When contacted on Wednesday, Umeme’s media manager Stephen Ilungole confirmed some government departments owe Umeme money.
“Unfortunately, customer information and transactions remain confidential for both government entities and any other customers,” Mr Ilungole said.
“As a matter of policy, we don’t discuss customer issues publicly.”
It is public knowledge though that over the last three years, the amount the government departments owe the utility company has oscillated between Shs89.5 billion (2013), Shs116 billion (2014) and Shs64.17 billion (2015).

Biggest defaulters
The departments that owe Umeme the highest amount of money are the Defence and the Health ministries, the Uganda Police Force, Uganda Prisons Service, Mulago National Referral Hospital and Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC).
Defence has a bill of Shs29 billion, Police Shs12 billion, Prisons Shs9 billion, Health Shs4.3 billion, UBC Shs2.2 billion and Mulago Shs1.4 billion.
Other 170 departments and agencies owe Umeme the rest of the money.
It is baffling why these and other departments, which Parliament allocates money annually to,among other things, pay electricity and water bills; do not clear their debts in time.

On April 28, 2016, the secretary to the treasury, Mr Keith Muhakanizi, reportedly directed the accounting officers in the affected ministries, departments and agencies to clear the electricity arrears for 2015 arrears.

It is also not clear why Umeme, which the government requested two years ago to switch all government departments from postpaid metering and billing to prepaid, has not effected the arrangement.

Mr Ilungole said, “With regard to conversion to prepayment metering, procurement has been completed and conversion is expected to start at the end of the year.”
He added that the company would next week, kick off meetings with suppliers as well as engage stakeholders over the matter.

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The numbers

Shs29 billion
The amount of money that Defence owes Umeme.

Shs12 billion
The amount of money that Police owes Umeme.

nwesonga@ug.nationmedia.com

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