Parliament’s COSASE Examines UCAA for Discrepancies in Auditor General’s Report

The Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (COSASE) has scrutinized the management of the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) for inconsistencies and misinterpretations in the Auditor General’s report for the year 2022-2023. The committee discovered that conflicting and differing figures had been submitted in UCAA’s responses.

UCAA’s Finance Director, Hassan Musinguzi, clarified that the disagreement revolves around the newly proposed rent rate of US$15 per square meter, determined following a valuation by the Chief Government Valuer. “When ENHAS and DAS occupied in 2022, we presented draft agreements with this figure, which they contested. At that point, we sought guidance from the Chief Government Valuer, who reduced the valuation from US$15 to US$8,” Musinguzi explained.

He further contested, “We disputed this because the previous rate was US$7. Increasing it by just US$1 for the new facilities is not justified.” Musinguzi mentioned that despite the dispute, the companies have concession agreements, and while they appealed, MENZIS paid at the old rate of US$7 pending further guidance from the Chief Government Valuer.

UCAA’s Director General Fred Bamwesigye defended the rent increment, citing that the new cargo center enhances business operations for the companies. “We requested the Chief Government Valuer to reassess the valuation, but upon receiving the figure, we found it disappointing and unacceptable. We are planning a meeting with the Chief Government Valuer and the companies to obtain a valuation that reflects the benefits these new facilities bring to their operations,” Bamwesigye stated.

Committee Chairperson, Hon. Medard Sseggona, questioned the criteria used by the Chief Government Valuer to lower the rent. “Could you provide us with the valuation report from the Chief Government Valuer and the final findings? It’s quite concerning. In the interim, what are the terms under which ENHAS and DAS are occupying the premises? They should not have transitioned from the old to the new without settling on an agreed amount,” Sseggona emphasized.

He added that once the committee reviews the pertinent documents, they will decide on the next steps, potentially involving discussions with the Chief Government Valuer. “We will determine whether to invite the Chief Government Valuer to explain their valuation process, as there is typically a margin of error. However, this margin should not result in a valuation as low as US$7,” Sseggona stressed, highlighting that the Chief Government Valuer acts as an advisor during negotiations and does not restrict the ability to charge rates above their valuation.

Hon. Yusuf Nsibambi (FDC, Mawokota County South) pointed out that the law does not mandate the Chief Government Valuer to set prices for cargo handling services. “You can negotiate independently with the companies or seek external guidance as needed. Revisiting the Valuer for a reassessment is inappropriate,” he remarked.

The new cargo terminal spans approximately 6,700 square meters and includes amenities such as a parking apron, landside and airside access roads, and cooling facilities. ENHAS and DAS collectively occupy 80 percent of the cargo terminal building as allocated.