We shall resolve UTL saga in next three days - Kasaija

Thursday July 4 2019

The Minister of Finance, Mr Matia Kasaija. FILE

The Minister of Finance, Mr Matia Kasaija. FILE PHOTO  

By MISAIRI THEMBO KAHUNGU

Kampala. The Minister of Finance, Mr Matia Kasaija, has said the fate of management of Uganda Telecom (UTL) will be decided in the next three days.
“We are trying to handle this matter at the highest level possible. You will hear from us in another three days,” Mr Kasaija told Daily Monitor in a telephone interview yesterday.

He, however, declined to reveal what action will be taken on UTL.
On June 20, Aringa South MP Alioni Yorke Odria called for investigation into the way the telecommunication company was being managed. The Finance ministry has since been calling for the sacking of UTL administrator Twebaze Bemanya for allegedly mismanaging the telecom company.
Mr Bemanya, also the Registrar General of Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), has been the administrator and chief receiver of UTL since May 2017 when it went into an Administration Deed.

Background
With 31 per cent of the shares in UTL, government took over full control of the company when the Libyans, who held 69 per cent of shares, left, leaving behind liabilities worth more than Shs700b.
The call for Mr Bemanya’s sacking has been crusaded by State minister for Privatisation and Investment, Ms Evelyn Anite, who insists he must be replaced because he has defied government efforts for accountability.

Early this year, Mr Kasaija requested the Auditor General to audit UTL.
However, the Auditor General wrote back on April 24, saying he would not carry out an audit on UTL because the company was under Administration and managed by a court process as a result of an insolvency situation.
On June 25, the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, overruled a request to set up a Select Committee to investigate UTL.
She said neither Parliament nor the Executive has powers over an entity under Administration.

On the spot. Uganda Telecom Ltd head offices in

On the spot. Uganda Telecom Ltd head offices in Kampala. The Finance ministry has been calling for the sacking of Mr Twebaze Bemanya as UTL administrator for allegedly mismanaging the telecom company. PHOTO BY KELVIN ATUHAIRE.

Ms Anite took up the matter and asked the Attorney General to apply to court to have the UTL Administrator replaced.
The Deputy Attorney General, Mr Mwesigwa Rukutana, on June 28, gave a legal opinion saying the Ministry of Finance does not have supervisory mandate over UTL under the current status quo.
Ms Anite hit back on the same day with a letter addressed to the Attorney General, Mr William Byaruhanga, accusing Mr Rukutana of making an “offside reply” that was flawed in “innuendos/opinions”.
She also asked Mr Byaruhanga to proceed with the application to court without delay.

On July 1, Mr Byaruhanga wrote to Mr Kasaija instead, asking the ministry to back off UTL administration and reiterated that the ministry has no control over the company in the current status.
He said the ministry can only succeed if it requests UTL creditors to make the application to court.
However, Ms Anite insisted Mr Bemanya must leave UTL, saying her position “is final”.

She wrote to President Museveni seeking further guidance on the matter.
During a press conference on June 21, Mr Bemanya said he could not allow the audit until the end of his tenure on November 22. He said there was no need since he had been submitting bi-annual progressive reports on UTL to the High Court, all creditors and shareholders (Finance Ministry inclusive).
He said UTL maintained a monthly average revenue of Shs4.2b under his management, reduced liabilities from Shs709b in 2017 to ShsShs536b today and reduced Internet and voice call costs.

mkthembo@ug.nationmedia.com

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