The Uganda Investment Authority is under the spot for allegedly frustrating Indian investors with an investment worth shs25 billion.
Universal Granites and Marble Limited, was in 2014 issued with an investment licence to start a granite cutting and polishing factory at the Namanve industrial park.
Consequently, the company was allocated 10 acres of land at the industrial park that would allow them to carry out the cutting and polishing of granite after getting eight licences to mine granite from Lira, Gulu, Soroti, Nwoya, Mukono, Kyegegwa and Kiboga districts.
However, despite getting licences for mining, the mining never took off after delays stemming from land acquisition in the various districts and in a March 2018 letter to the Uganda Investment Authority, the company directors indicated that they had sought assistance of President Museveni to help them overcome some hurdles including land acquisition and power connection that had delayed the project.
In July 2018, Uganda Investment Authority wrote to the company threatening to withdraw the piece of land allocated to them at the Namanve industrial park for failure to develop the land within the mandated 18 months after acquisition but in response, the company said they had been delayed by factors beyond their own control.
“We are trying our best to start the development immediately but many hurdles were faced by this project at different levels which were already communicated in our last letters,” the company wrote.
In February 2019, the Internal Security Organisation Director-General, Col.Kaka Bagyenda wrote to the acting Executive Director for the Uganda Investment Authority, Lawrence Byensi in regards to the withdrawal of land from the Indian company saying they had been delayed by a number of circumstances beyond their control.
“The company delayed to comply due to a number of challenges some of which include terms of reference of the building plans was approved on September 5, 2018, and securing the certificate of approval of Environmental Impact Assessments dated January 2, 2019,” Col.Kaka said in his letter to UIA.
In the letter, the ISO boss told Uganda Investment Authority that permission to start construction of the factory at Namanve was issued by Mukono Municipal Council on February 12, 2019.
“From all the above, we are ware you were updated and kept monitoring the progress. These challenges have largely been resolved and the necessary documentation and equipment secured and the investor in trying to beat the deadline set by the authority must have spent colossal sums of money hitherto.”
Col.Kaka added, therefore is my considered opinion that Uganda Investment Authority kindly reconsiders its earlier decision to cancel the lease offer so that the vital investment is implemented.”
In response, Uganda Investment Authority responded to Col.Kaka saying the land was offered on condition of commencement of construction of the factory within 18 months as is the standards with the procedure for all land allocates.
“It is important to note that is now four years since the investor was offered land with no activity on ground. The investor flouted the development covenants agreed between themselves and government,” UIA wrote.
On April 5, 2019, Uganda Investment Authority wrote to the Managing Director for Universal Granite and Marble Limited informing him of the decision to withdraw the land leased to the company.
“Based on the above, the UIA board declined your appeal for reinstatement of the land and it has subsequently been allocated to another investor,” the then acting UIA Executive Director, Lawrence Byensi wrote.
He advised the company to apply for a fresh allocation of land using the new land allocation guidelines as soon as they are ready to commence development.
Investor cries foul
However, according to Ranjeet Bhansali, a director in the company, they have invested a lot of money in developing the 10-acre land allocated to them at Namanve and asking them to leave would cost them heavily.
“We have injected over shs2.5 billion through architectural plans and other works that leaving the land would mean all that money was just wasted for nothing. All the hurdles we went through were beyond our own control,” Bhansali said.
He accused some officials in the Uganda Investment Authority of deliberately frustrating the company so that they give the land to another investor.
When contacted for a comment, Lawrence Byensi, the Uganda Investment Authority acting Director-General told the Nile Post he could not respond to the claims because he was still in a meeting.
“I can refer you to our office and get the file about the matter,” Byensi told this website.