Back off departed Asians’ property, Muhakanizi warns ministers

PS Ministry of Finance, Keith Muhakanizi has cautioned ministers over Asians’ property (FILE PHOTO)

KAMPALA: The Permanent Secretary in the Finance ministry, Mr Keith Muhakanizi, has warned ministers against allocation of properties belonging to departed Asians.

In a March 23 letter to Mr George William Bizibu, the Executive Secretary Departed Asian Property Custodian Board, Mr Muhakanizi warns that it is only court that can direct the cancellation of a certificate of title of such property and not the board or its members, some of whom are ministers.

“…where repossession certificate for properties under the DAPCB had been issued, only the relevant courts of law had the authority to cancel such certificates in accordance with the law. It was agreed that the ministry of finance, planning and economic development and the board must continue to respect the rule of law. Therefore any orders of court must be complied with,” Mr Muhakanizi’s letter reads in part.

“By copy of this letter, I am duly informing Hon Ministers who are members of the Departed Asians Property custodian Board (DAPCB) and the Clerk to Parliament who has requested information to assist Members of Parliament carry out their legislative and oversight functions in this matter,” the letter adds.

Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire (FILE PHOTO)

The directive comes after the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters chaired by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire grilled Lands minister Betty Amongi for reportedly using a company, Amobet Investments Limited, which she co-owns with her sister Adongo Keti, to acquire temporary possession of four lucrative government properties in Kampala after they were repossessed by the Asian family in 1992.

Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Betty Amongi (COURTESY PHOTO)

Ms Amongi is a member of the Custodian Board committee chaired by the Finance minister, Mr Matia Kasaija. Other members of the board include the Lands minister, the Attorney General and the Local Government minister.

Last week, Mr Kasaija was grilled by the commission on how the properties, which include Plot 29 on Acacia Avenue, Plot 15/17 Industrial Area and Plot 12A Prince Charles Drive in Kololo, were allocated to M/s Amobet Investments Limited.

Finance minister Matia Kasaija. Courtesy photo.

However, Mr Kasaija defended himself, saying he had never chaired a Custodian board meeting to decide on the allocation of property to Amobet and said the decision was taken by the chief executive officer of the board.

“The issue of allocating property, collecting rent, cancelling tenancy was left to the executive secretary because the board is a high powered delegation. There is a game I cannot explain myself. It involves my executive secretary and my honourable colleague, Amongi but I need to look at the minutes because I don’t remember chairing a meeting that approved the allocation,” he said.



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