Ex-Minister Esther Mbayo Named In Controversial Shs1.5bn UPPC Land Deal Saga

Esther Mbayo


Former Minister for Presidency hon. Esther Mbayo has been named in a controversial deal in which the taxpayers lost Shs1.5bn in a questionable joint venture deal between UPPC and a Germany company. The purported deal was sealed in October 2018 but has no exact date it was signed, something which left MPs shaking their heads!

This came to light as the parliamentary committee on commissions and statutory enterprises (COSASE) met officials from Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation (UPPC) led by acting managing director Oluka.

The committee chairman Joel Ssenyonyi tasked the officials to explain how the entity came to know the Germany company which later penned a Joint venture agreement with UPPC but officials said they had no such background details to this transaction as it was done during the reign of sacked board, management and former minister Mbayo.

According to this agreement, UPPC entered a joint venture with a Germany company wherein the entity was to offer land.
This land measuring 1.778hectares was valued at Shs10.6bn by the government Chief valuer. However, dramatically, UPPC gave it out to the Germans at a lower price worth Shs9.1bn causing a financial loss to governmnent worth Shs1.5bn and no explanation is available.

In the same agreement, the Germans were to provide funding worth 680000euros, technology identification and procurement of equipment for the factory. The same Germans were to design E-passports and watermarks, service and maintainance of an E-passport issuance system, construction of the factory among others.

“The joint venture is going to run for 15years and then UPPC will takeover the factory and all machines” says Oluka.
In penning this agreement, UPPC and the Germany company formed a joint company baptized as Uganda Security Printing Company (USPC) Ltd wherein UPPC was the majority shareholder with 51% and the Germans had 49%. It was agreed that the ministry of finance, presidency and UPPC all have representatives on the Joint venture.

However, beautiful as it maybe, the members were shocked to learn that this agreement had no dates.
“We want to confirm the date from where we start counting. Who signed this agreement?” MPs asked to which Oluka responded saying it wasn’t signed by sitting presidency minister Milly Babalanda but her predecessor Esther Mbayo and other people.

“It wasn’t signed by minister Milly Babalanda but honorable Mbayo” he said.
The committtee also demanded to know how the Germany company was procured and also whether in disposing of the government land, PPDA guidelines were followed.
“Was this company procured through competitive bidding or? How was it procured” the committtee asked to which the corporation secretary said ‘this was before my time at the corporation and I am not in capacity to answer that’

The committtee insisted on knowing whether there were no handover reports by the previous managers that could have covered this joint venture.
“The documents we found at the time we took over didn’t include the earlier transaction, how it came about and we have been trying to get in touch with USPC to get the documents to do with the joint venture so that we’re also abreast with it” Acting Managing director UPPC Oluka told the committtee, adding that even when they tried to get to USPC, the documents they got, the Joint venture wasn’t there.

He said at the time he also joined senior management, he found the discussions were centered on construction and there wasn’t much background information.
“We were basically at how to handover the site and identification of the area. Construction is going on for the factory and administration block” he said.

UPPC’s mandate is to print and publish all governmnent documents especially those related to the Uganda Gazette among other responsibilities. It is currently in the news over issues related to mismanagement much of which is clearly arising from the actions of the sacked board and management which is currently battling court cases. The hearing continues tomorrow.

Presidency minister Milly Babalanda was expected to also have attended but asked for a reschedule of the meeting as she was (according to Ssenyonyi) attending another sensitive function related to National IDs.

Tags : Esther MbayoPresident Yoweri Museveni


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