By Andrew Irumba
The government of Uganda is in final stages of repossessing investments that fallen Libyan president Col. Muammar Gaddafi had acquired in Uganda prior to his ouster in 2013, after his country was invaded by NATO backed forces.
We have established that government is in the advanced plans of taking over full ownership of the National Housing and Construction Company Limited, as the country’s housing deficit rises to a staggering 140, 000 units annually.
The revelation was made Wednesday to Parliament by Chris Baryomunsi, the state minister for Housing, who was presenting a budget framework paper for the 2020/2021 to 2024/2025 Financial Years.
Established by an Act of Parliament (Cap 321) of 1964, NHCC is credited for having built 2,384 affordable housing units, albeit most of their funding having come from Libya.
Baryomunsi told Parliamentarians that “The Libyan government, which owns 49% shares in the company, has not fulfilled its commitments, largely due to turmoil back home which started after Gaddafi’s overthrow.”
He added that “Lately, government learnt that majority of the officials designated to sit on the National Housing board now belong to the opposition.”
Baryomunsi noted that following counsel from the Attorney General (AG) William Byaruhanga, government has moved to replace these Libyan officials with Ugandans on the Board.
“We have started the process of disengaging, by asking the Attorney General to interpret whether only Ugandans can sit on the board which he has agreed and therefore on the board the Libyans no longer sit there,” Baryomunsi stated.
He also pointed out that government is studying modalities of compensating the Libyan government so as to reclaim full ownership of the firm, which was heavily bankrolled during Gaddafi’s regime.
“Government will get a way of buying off the shares which are held by the Libyan government so that government can gain 100% shares or even find some Ugandan companies to buy these shares,” Baryomunsi explained to the legislators.
It should be noted that Libyan African Investment Company (LAICO) was awarded these shares in 2005 in an agreement where Uganda was excused from paying accumulated interest off its debt that stood at Shs162.8Bn to Libya.
However, apart from National Housing Corporation, Libya owns several other assets in Uganda, among them a huge stake in Uganda Telecom (Utl).