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Attorney General Denies Plan to Sell Land to Gov’t

The Attorney General William Byaruhanga has denied reports that his company Pine Investments intends to sell 2.2acres of land at Nakasero to government for the AfreximBank project.
Attorney General William Byaruhanga before Parliament.

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The Attorney General William Byaruhanga has denied allegations that his company Pine Investments intends to sell 2.2acres of land at Nakasero to government for the Afrexim Bank project.

The land will house the headquarters of Africa Export-Import Bank also referred to as the Afrexim Bank. The Bank’s headquarters are currently in Cairo, Egypt.

Media reports indicate that four companies had expressed interest in offering land for the bank project. These included Pine Investments Co offering 2.2 acres in Nakasero at US Dollars 4 million approximately 14.676 billion Shillings per acre, Vara Enterprise offering 2.4 acres in Bugolobi at US Dollars 3.1 million equivalent to 11.366 billion Shillings per acre while a bid from SGL proposed 3 acres at Kololo Lugogo bypass at US Dollars 2.7 million or 9.896 billion Shillings per acre.

Byaruhanga on Thursday told Parliament that although he is one of the three directors of Pine Investments, he was not party to the decision of bidding to sell land to government for the project. The other directors are Charles Lubega and Henry Lubwama.

He explained that while in The Hague, Netherlands two months ago, the Ministry of Finance put out a tender for bids for provision of land for Afreximbank and that this is when the two company directors Lubega and Lubwama participated in the bid by submitting documents.  

He said that when he returned, the matter was brought to his attention prompting his letter to the Finance Minister Matia Kasaija and Secretary to Treasury Keith Muhakanizi seeking the immediate withdrawal of his company’s bid.

Byaruhanga said that his company is not a participant in the bidding process noting that there is no influence peddling in the ongoing process.

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His response followed a request by Busiro East MP Medard Lubega Sseggona who asked whether it was not right for the Attorney General to explain why he should not be investigated for conflict of interest.

“I am aware you asked the Prime Minister to investigate and report but this House had history on investigations conducted by Prime Minister and undertaking of Prime Minister which are not honored,” Sseggona told the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga.

On Wednesday, Kawempe North MP Latif Ssebaggala asked Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda to clarify on reports that some government officials were under pressure to buy land from Byaruhanga’s company for the bank project yet the ownership of the land under question was under Court investigation. Ssebaggala said that the land belonged to Nakasero Primary School.

Kasilo County MP Elijah Okupa told Byaruhanga to clarify on the allegations concerning ownership of land at Nakasero. But he said that he has owned the land since 2015.

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Government resolved to host the regional headquarters of the Africa Export Import Bank (Afrexim bank) in Uganda. The Bank was created by African Governments to foster the development of member states and the continent, which constitute the largest proportion of ownership under the auspices of the Africa Development Bank.

Uganda has 2,426 shares (2.1%) in the bank with a share capital of USD 9.7 million and Share Premium of USD 14.5 million. The other shareholders in the bank include a section of African financial institutions and corporates as well as some international financial institutions. The bank currently has branch offices in Egypt, Zimbabwe and Cote d'Ivoire.

The multilateral lender was initially to be hosted in Nairobi, Kenya but the country was reluctant to grant them a diplomatic status forcing the agency to move its regional headquarters to Uganda.  

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