MPs block UBC Shs 80 billion bailout

Suggestions for closure and or transfer were fronted by the Kira Municipality MP Ssemujjju Nganda, Shadow minister of Finance Muwanga Kivumbi, the Buyaga West MP, Mr Barnabas Tinkansimire, and the Sheema South MP, Mr Dicken Mushemeza.
Building of UBC
| Photo Credit: Daily monitor

Parliamentary legislators stopped the government’s  Shs 87 billion request and suggested bailing out the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) from the striking outstanding payments.

The vice chairperson of the parliamentary Committee on ICT, Mr Nathan Nabeta introduced the request to parliament but all in vain on Wednesday 18 January 2023.

The documents presented before legislators on the Budget committee indicate that UBC requires Shs 46 billion to settle National Social Security Fund (NSSF) pending payments,  Shs15 billion for Uganda Revenue Authority and Shs 192 billion for the Kampala Capital City Authority. 

The state broadcaster also has pending payments of  Shs 315 million bills to the National Water and Sewerage Corporation and another Shs 77 billion to the National Information Technology Authority.

It should be noted that the blocked request is part of the Shs 176.761 billion proposed budget for the Ministry of Information Communication and Technology (ICT).

While presenting the Ministry’s 2023/2024 Budget Framework Paper (BFP), Mr Nabeta pointed out that once such financial assistance is provided to UBC would clear up payments it’s battling with.

He further stressed to his fellows that lawmakers are required to review the budget request since it is a state information channel.

“It is the mouthpiece for the government. So we need to look at that.” 

Unfortunately, Mr Nabeta’s was all in vain as the majority of his counterparts claimed that the utilization of recent bailouts made by the government had been unknown so they are not sure if the Shs87 billion request will be properly utilised.

However proposals for the closure of or transfer were brought in by the Kira Municipality MP Ssemujjju Nganda, Shadow minister of Finance Muwanga Kivumbi, the Buyaga West MP, Mr Barnabas Tinkansimire, not excluding the Sheema South MP, Mr Dicken Mushemeza.

However much the ICT committee tried to convince the Budget committee to accept the Shs87 billion request, Mr Ssemujju continued to reject it.

“My proposal then is that I want to persuade you to transfer this UBC since we are now rationalising, just carry this UBC and take it to New Vision. Yes! Because we own New Vision by more than 50 per cent,” Mr Ssemujjju said before adding: “We can use that shareholding to achieve what we want to achieve with UBC.”

Forwarding in another alternative later,  Mr Nganda argued: “So just transfer UBC to New Vision so that all the problems perish.

Commenting on the above, the managing director of UBC, Mr Winston Agaba, criticised the legislators’ failure to grant the Shs87 billion request.

“We are a national broadcaster that inherited debts from the UTV (Uganda Television Network),” Mr Agaba said before adding: “I believe that most people have not understood how broadcasting is done. National broadcasting comes with enormous expenses.”

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