By Umaru Kashaka
Trade and Industry minister Amelia Kyambadde has appointed a new board of directors to the Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB) after years.
UEPB executive director Florence Kata told MPs on the Tourism, Trade and Industry parliamentary committee that the appointments will help the organisation solve pending human resource matters.
“We had initially complained about delayed constitution of the board of directors and insufficient funds allocated to us, which even compelled us not to pay PAYE and NSSF remittances for the staff amounting to sh1.7b,” Kata told the committee chaired by Samia Bugwe North MP John Mulimba.
The new board includes Maria Odido (chairperson), Opolot Okasai (Agriculture ministry representative), Patrick Okilangole (representing trade) and Sugal Gwosami representing the flower sector.
MPs recently grilled Kata over suspected corruption tendencies owing to the manner she leased land to a Chinese company, Sino East African Trade Development Company Limited on March 27, 2010.
They queried the circumstances under which the executive director overstepped her powers to enter into a deal with a Chinese company when the board of directors mandated to execute such duties was not in place.
However, Kata said she had no option but to overstep her powers since she had been writing to the trade minister about the appointments but in vain.
“We’ve been dead for the last four years as an institution and I don’t know why it has taken this long for the minister to appoint the directors,” she said.
Mulimba promised to summon the minister to explain to the Committee why it took her long to appoint a new board despite repeated calls from the executive director.
“The Committee is going to write to her and even be invited to explain these issues,” he said, before adding: “The memorandum of understating that was signed is illegal because there was no evidence that it was done on behalf of the Government. Kata overstepped her powers.”
The Committee ruled that the memorandum of understanding signed between the Chinese company and UEPB is now null and void and no further transactions should be conducted now that the new board is in place.
“We need to look at this matter carefully and if it means cancelling the agreement we’ll do it because UEPB and UBC had no mandate to execute duties in the absence of a board of directors,” Nabiila Sempala (Kampala Women MP) said.