The top management at the government printers at Uganda Printing and Publishing Company (UPPC) has failed to generate accountability for Shs10b, an equivalent of the amount of the land they sold to a German company they do not know exists.
UPPC management together with the Minister for Presidency Milly Babalanda were summoned by Parliament’s Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) to answer to allegations of maladministration, abuse of office and causing financial loss.
While the Minister did not appear, citing a fixed schedule from so many tasks from the president, her subordinates in UPPC appeared and a series of revelations ensued.
Appearing before the committee, the acting Managing Director Kenneth Oluka and Secretary Connie Ariada failed to explain why the corporation doesn’t have a representative on the board of a joint venture to which it is the majority shareholder.
The venture is Uganda Security Printing Company (USPC) which includes UPPC and a German consortium Veridos. UPPC has a stake of 51 per cent in the venture, resulting from a 1.77 hectares purchase by Veridos from UPPC at Shs 9.91b.
However, the same land was valued at Shs10.6b by the chief government valuer, which resulted in an Shs1.5b to the government.
In response to the facts on the table, the UPPC accountant John Ahimbisibwe told the committee that they arrived at the rate using a valuation fronted by Veridos, thereby undermining the government valuer’s recommendations.
Ahimbisibwe said there was a circular that came from USPC from which he derived the figures.
Ahimbisibwe claimed that he received a directive from his boss to stick to the new figure dictated by Veridos.
When pushed further to prove he had been ordered by someone to go with the figures by Veridos, Ahimbisibwe said he has no such proof but would produce it if required by the committee.
In further defence, Ahimbisibwe claimed that the land had depreciated by the time of sale.
“Land does not depreciate, it appreciates in value. If you are saying it depreciated, we want to understand how,” Joel Ssenyonyi, the chairman of the committee demanded.
Meanwhile, Oluka and Ariada shocked the MPs when they said they had no idea who was behind Veridos company and all they know is that it was a Germany Company.
Asked how UPPC got into a joint venture with the said company, Oluka maintained he does not have an idea how that happened.
“When we got into the office we were unable to access the documents explaining in detail how UPPC entered the venture,” Oluka said.
UPPC’s problems are far from over, it should be noted that the Minister for Presidency Milly Babalanda has been cited in a Shs7 billion scandal involving UPPC.
The minister is accused of draining Shs7 billion from a Kenya Commercial Bank account that had been fixed to buy printing machines for the UPPC.
According to an internal source, UPPC had been saving the money to purchase the said machines, however, the Minister expelled the Board in 2021 and took over management and procurement roles.
COSASE has also summoned the minister to answer questions regarding the same.
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