KAMPALA – The Cabinet sitting this week has pulled a plug on investment minister Evelyne Anite’s attempt to move government to confirm Mauritius Telecom as the new investor to take over the operations of the Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL).
According to information available to PML Daily, Ms Anite, in her submission on matter requested Cabinet to disregard recommendations of the official receiver and Uganda Registration Services Bureau head Mr Bemanya Twebaze who recommened negotiations with any of the three top bidders – Hamiliton Telecom Limited, Afrinet Kenya Limited, and Teleology Holding Limited.
In her submission to Cabinet, Ms Anite wanted the government to compel the administrator, Mr Bemanya Twebaze to handover UTL to Mauritius Telecom, arguing that it was the only credible company cleared by the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA).
However the Mauritius Telecom bid of $45 million was the lowest of the six companies competing for the takeover of the UTL, whose assets have been valued at $84 million. Hamilton had offered $70 million while Afrinet offered $67m. Teology offered $60 million.
Despite her tirade against top officials of the URSB, President Museveni ignored the ministers allegations on attempted bribery to her and directed Cabinet to appoint a committee to negotiate the final outcome on the matter.
The Committee to be headed by Attorney General Mr William Byaruhanga will also have Finance Minister Matia Kasaija and ICT Minister Frank Tumwebaze.
“We want to know how much the investor can give in relation to UTL assets,” a Cabinet minister quoted a decided Museveni as saying. The president then said that the Cabinet sub-committee will have the final say on the matter, thereby cutting off Ms Anite’s involvment.
The administrator had listed 7 companies including the three top bidders and Mauritius Telecom whose bid was the earliest but lowest. The others were Telecel Global, Neubacher Montage LLP, and Bayliss Consortium.
Cabinet had ordered that an investor be fiund to run UTL after finding out that it was choking on debts worth over Shs200b. At the time, President Museveni ordered all government ministries, departments and agencies to buy internet from UTL.
The Cabinet also ordered that all shortlisted potential investors be subjected to due dilugence by the Ffinancial Iintelligence Authority.
However in a surprising report, the FIA only returned Mauritius Telecom as the only bidder that passed the bill.
Mr Sydney Asubo the FIA executive director, said in his May 23 report after analysis of the companies, Mauritius Telecom, a company in which the government of Mauritius holds 30 per cent shares was best placed for the offer. Despite efforts by the government to gave Mauritius Telecom to increase their offer, Ms Anite said there was no need. However, the Monday Cabinet decision moves her out of the picture.