By Joyce Namutebi
“HOMELESS” after selling their property in Kampala City, Members of Parliament are now telling Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) to relocate to Namanve along Jinja road, instead of renting.
In a meeting with UIA officials at Parliament on Wednesday, MPs questioned why the authority sold their building along Kampala Road and then decided to rent in another part of the city.
“You should account for the money you got from the sale of that building,” Nandala Mafabi told the UIA officials. Present was state minister for investment, Gabriel Ajedra. “Why don’t you shift staff to Namanve other than continuing to rent?” Nandala asked.
Currently UIA is renting on Twed Plaza, Lumumba Avenue, Kampala.
The UIA team had appeared to defend their budget for the coming financial year.
The MPs also demanded to know what happened to the US$72m that was given to UIA to develop Namanve as an industrial park.
Without a board in place to superintend the organisation, the MPs wondered how they were going to appropriate money for it.
They were equally concerned by the delay to put in place a one stop centre to ease processes for investors.
Responding to queries raised, Ajedra explained that the former UIA office was situated on a very busy street. “The location was inappropriate. The board took a decision to sell interest at Sh1.8b.”
The money, he said was deposited with bank of Uganda until the Board decided to acquire another property at Kololo. Ajedra, however, informed the MPs that he had objected to management about the Kololo site, which is situated in a residential area.
He did not disclose how much they are now paying in rent.
On relocating to the UIA property in Namanve, the minister cited heavy traffic as the excuse for not being ideal, but MPs reminded him of the accessibility of the Northern bypass which is used by commuters to and from the eastern part of the country, and also the alternative route of old Jinja road.
On concerns by MPs that Namanve land had been allocated to people who had no capacity to develop it, Ajedra explained that they had now developed a comprehensive allocation criteria requiring investors who wish to move there to have a comprehensive business plan and banks to certify that the plan is viable. Investors, he said, should also have architectural drawings and if allocated land one should be able to develop it within 18 month and if not it reverts to UIA without appeal.
He revealed that Cabinet had approved proposal on the one stop centre and that the President has directed Ministry of finance to release sh1.6b to NITA-U to install soft ware and hard ware for all the relevant agencies to get online.
UIA director, Lawrence Byensi, who represented the executive director, Frank Sebowa, explained that out of the US$72m that was coming from World Bank, the authority only had US$25m and by the time the Bank withdrew support, they had utilized only US$7m.
He said World Bank withdrew funding saying the industrial park was situated in an area considered to be a wetland.
Byensi appealed for increase of the development budget for industrial parks to Sh9.7b from sh2.69b.
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