Monica Ntege Azuba

Following insistence by the members of parliament that government explains the ownership of the revamped Uganda National Airline before they can approve needed money to complete purchase of aircraft, the latter on Wednesday turned around to say it owns all the shares via the Ministries of Works and Transport as well as Ministry of Finance, each owning one million ordinary shares.

The new development was revealed by Works minister Monica Azuba who presented the certificates of shareholding and incorporation, even though MPs still remained skeptical of the documents she laid on table.

Deputy Speaker who was chairing the House on noting MPs’ concerns ordered that the Budget Committee scrutinizes the new documents brought by minister Azuba who is one of the architects of revamping the airline.

Yesterday it was revealed that government has less than one percent of the shares in the company while unnamed individuals own over 99 percent of the shares. This forced MPs not approve Shs280 billion in supplementary budget for 2018/19 to operationalise the aircraft. US $41.55 million is required for delivery of the first aircraft and the second in March 2019,

Meanwhile, according to the National Planning Authority (NPA) 99 per cent of the stock in Uganda Airlines remains unsubscribed because it is being held in trust until the carrier is ready for listing on the Uganda Securities Exchange.

Responding to suggestions that a ‘mystery individual’ holds the majority interest in the publicly funded project, Mr. Moses Dhizaala, the Head of Monitoring and Evaluation at the National Planning Authority NPA said the decision to have the ministries of finance and works as the primary shareholders was arrived at following advice from the Attorney General’s chambers.

“When the question of ownership came up at the inception of the national carrier project, the legal advice we got indicated that as long as there was a minimum of two subscribers to the share capital, Uganda National Airlines Corporation could be registered a public company. That is why the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Works were each given a single share so that the company could have legal effect,” Dhizaala said.

That left 99.9 per cent of the stock open to subscription as and when the revived national carriers financials qualify it for listing on the USE.

That arrangement has caused confusion with a section of legislators suggesting that the government was a minority shareholder in the project while a phantom figure owned the rest. The sensational claims are contained in a minority report by opposition MP’s on the House Budget Committee after the House passed Shs280 billion in supplementary spending by the works ministry to support payments for the initial two aircraft from Canadian systems integrator Bombardier.

The Ministry of Works and Transport as well as Ministry of Finance are so far said to be the only nominees to the company, each holding a single share equivalent to 0.0001 percent of the stock. The two ministries which comprise the company’s board are represented by their respective permanent secretaries.