A select committee instituted by Parliament to investigate the financial woes at Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL) has revealed that the company’s debt currently stands at Ugx 700 billion.
The committee chairperson, Phillip Okin Ojara, who is also Chua West MP, told journalists at a press conference at Parliament on February 7, 2017, that the investigations place the total indebtedness of UTL amounts to Ugx 700 billion.
Ojara said that the money was accrued from debts to local and foreign companies, which provided services to the company, while others included arrears from statutory deductions.
“When you look at the debt portfolio, including loans and liability of UTL, it goes up to the tune of Ugx 700 billion and this is enormous. This is serious because you really wonder how a company can get out of this situation,” Ojara revealed to the media.
Ojara outlined that UTL is choking on debts from Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), Uganda Revenue Authority (Ugx 58 billion), MTN Uganda and Airtel Uganda, among others.
“We are not very certain whether the capacity of the company will be revitalized so that they come out of this situation,” Ojara noted.
Government currently owns 31% shares in UTL, with the majority shareholders; Libya African Portfolio (LAP) Green owns 69% shares. The committee said that UTL may require recapitalization for it to be revamped and back on its feet. Ojara said this can be done if government and its majority shareholders inject more resources into the company.
“UTL is a very strategic company in terms of Uganda’s security and interests. To say Uganda should not invest in UTL, it will mean these strategic interests will be lost…UTL is a government company and it is the main service provider of services like the phone landlines to the ministries and Parliament,” Ojara said.
Last year, Budadiri West MP, Nandala Mafabi petitioned Parliament, alleging gross mismanagement in UTL, including misappropriation of funds by top managers and irregular sale of properties, including prime land belonging to the company.
Paul Akamba, Busiki County MP and member of the select committee said the committee is also probing conflicts over land belonging to UTL.
Akamba explained that some properties claimed by UTL have been claimed by Posta Uganda.
“Some of the assets are being shared and co-owned by UTL and Posta Uganda and so we stopped the sale of those assets as the investigations continue,” Akamba stated.
The seven-member committee has travelled to Mukono, Tororo and Lira districts to ascertain the ownership of UTL properties.