The Attorney General (AG), Kiryowa Kiwanuka has dismissed talk of a takeover of Entebbe International Airport, referring to it as false, wrong, and inconceivable.
He said that Uganda had not yet started paying the loan and was within the grace period for paying back the money that was borrowed from China for the airports’ expansion project.
Kiryowa assured the country that Uganda was able to fulfil its duties and contractual obligations in the $200m Entebbe Airport Agreement between the Government and the Export-Import Bank (EXIM) of China.
“This contract was signed on March 31, 2015, with a grace period of seven years and the first repayment date is April 1, 2022. Government cannot be in default during the grace period,” Kiryowa said.
Kiryowa made the remarks on December 1, 2021 while appearing before the Committee on Commissions Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) to respond to concerns that Entebbe International Airport faces a takeover by China.
He, however, said that there are consequences if Uganda does not meet its contractual obligation under the contract. He noted that although the contract in question was not the best, he said that the said contract was neither a bad one.
Responding to the concerns by Kasilo County MP, Elijah Okupa on the move by the Minister of Finance to renegotiate the contract, the AG confirmed that he had advised the Ministry of Finance against continued re-negotiation of the contract.
For the past few days, social media and some mainstream media outlets have been awash with information indicating that Uganda is set to lose its only International Airport to China over the $200m loan acquired for the expansion of the Airport in 2015.
The concerns follow contentious clauses in the agreement including the requirement for Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCCA) to seek China’s approval for its budget and strategic plans under the escrow account management. The account is managed by the lender.
The other contentious clause was that which provide that the disputes between the two parties will have to be resolved by the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission in China putting Uganda at a disadvantage.
Responding to the concerns of the unfair arbitration process, Kiryowa assured the Committee that Uganda was able to defend itself in any part of the world and it does not matter if it is in China.
In response to concerns raised by Kawempe South MP, Bashir Kazibwe on whether there was anything that the Attorney General could have done better in regards to the contract, Kiryowa said that looking at the circumstances and the negotiations, the contract is okay.