By Beatrice Leni
Parliament’s committee on Commissions Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) has given a government ministry three weeks to clear its debt obligations to Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The Ministry of Defence is one of many government and private entities that owe CAA a colossal amount of money, estimated at Shs 151 billion.
Out of this, Shs 54 billion is owed by government institutions like the Uganda Peoples Defence Airforce (UPDAF), Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, State House and the Ministry of Agriculture.
Private entities owe the authority about Shs 103 billion.
The United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO), on the other hand, owes CAA Shs 31 billion.
The committee learnt from CAA officials early this week that UDDAF occupies rental space and uses air navigation services but had never paid the institution.
Officials from the Ministry of Defence appeared before COSASE on Thursday to explain the delays to clear their four-year-old debt as reflected in the Auditor General’s report 2013/14.
The ministry’s Undersecretary, Edith Buturo admitted that while the institution uses the services provided by CAA, it was not aware that it was supposed to pay the authority.
Buturo promised to discuss the matter with the military leadership and find means of paying the debt.
“We need to go back and resolve some of these issues amicably. Like the matter of retrospective payment, how far back do we go and all these payments they have made on rates that were determined in that period,” Buturo said.
“We do guide and direct that the Ministry of Defence and CAA report to this committee after three weeks, having discussed and harmonised this matter and entered into an agreement,” Katuntu directed.
CAA has already contracted two law firms, Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA) and Kalenge, Bwanika, Sawa and Company Advocates to collect their debts, with at least Shs 703 million and $ 533,577 so far recovered.
Government has for years grappled with domestic debts accrued majorly from nonpayment of utility dues and rent arrears.