The Minister of State for Finance, Hon. David Bahati, has assured legislators that Uganda will not lose its properties in Kenya following the enactment of a new law limiting foreign ownership of property in the country.
Bahati said that Ugandan owned property in Kenya is managed by either Uganda Property Holdings Limited (UPHL), Uganda’s embassy in Nairobi or the Uganda Railways Corporation (URC).
“All the government of Uganda properties have running leases and the Land Law Amendment 2016 does not affect the current ownership of the properties directly,” said Bahati, who was presenting a statement to Parliament on Wednesday 27 November 2019.
“For properties whose lease is about to expire we shall work with the relevant authorities in Kenya to ensure that the leases are renewed,” he added.
The plenary sitting was chaired by Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga.
Bahati said that UPHL owns 23 properties in Mombasa, all of which have running leases. The properties include 11 warehouses, 2 office blocks, four residential houses and two yards.
“All the properties in Mombasa are developed, have running leases and are also being rented out at competitive rates,” he said.
URC owns three residential properties in Mombasa, Nairobi and Kisumu; while the Uganda Embassy in Nairobi owns the official residence, the chancery and a commercial property.
Members were however, not convinced with the minister’s explanation expressing fear that government may lose some or all of the property. Members were also unhappy that government had neglected the said property over the years.
Hon. Hood Katuramu (Ind., PWD Western) expressed concern that Uganda would risk losing the six properties whose lease ends in the next six years.
“The new law is very stringent in renewing the lease and no one is concerned about the property. In the interest of maintaining the East African Community relationship, the two governments should discuss the properties especially those whose lease is almost expiring,” Katuramu said.
Hon. Lyandro Komakech (DP, Gulu Municipality) said most of the properties were in a sorry state yet the money collected out of rent was being sent to the consolidated fund.
“Most of these properties are in prime areas and if renovated, the buildings can generate much revenue. Up to Shs10 billion from these properties was banked but wasn’t forwarded to the consolidated fund. Renovations should have started with this huge,” he said.
Speaker Kadaga directed the Attorney General to appear before Parliament with assurance indicating that Ugandan property in Nairobi will remain in the hands of government even after the current leases end.
“The fears of the citizens should be allayed by tabling a letter from the Attorney General of Kenya confirming that our property will not be affected by the new law in Kenya. The Committee of Foreign Affairs should take interest in this issue,” Kadaga said.