Bamuturaki grilled over foreign trips
Uganda's chief executive officer (CEO), Ms. Jenifer Bamuturaki, appeared before parliament's accountability committee yesterday to count the $12,750 (over SHS48 million) put forward to her to facilitate her travel abroad.
Evidence before the Committee on Statutory Commissions and State-Owned Enterprises (Cosase) shows that the CEO had to visit 10 destinations to evaluate the work being done to promote the airline in these areas, but some trips did not take place.
According to documents submitted to the committee, the Ministry of Works and Transport gave permission to Ms. Bamuturaki, who was then the airline's acting director general, to travel to Johannesburg, Kinshasa, Mombasa, Zanzibar, Juba, Nairobi, Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam, Mogadishu and Burundi between June 28 and July 30, 2021.
“Ms. Jenifer Bamunturaki, CEO of Ag, Uganda Airlines, is entitled to travel to the aforementioned stations from June 28 to July 30, 2021, to hold station preparation meetings for sales and marketing and to pursue their marketing strategies,” the Ministry of Works told Uganda Airlines management in a letter dated June 28, the same day these trips were to begin.
Ms. Bamuturaki was to spend three days in each of the locations.
The chairman of the committee, Mr. Joel Senyoni, instructed Ms. Bamuturaki to provide evidence that she had traveled to these destinations.
However, Ms Bamuturaki said she was fully aware of the details under scrutiny but declined to respond.
“We were preparing for [questions about the] Fiscal Year 2020/2021 [Auditor General] report. What has been raised, I will respond in writing and provide these details,” Ms. Bamuturaki said.
This, however, caused outrage among MPs.
“Except when you want to say that this request is useless because we would write to you and tell you to write to us. We have this option. But we're calling you here because we want an oral response,” Mr. Señonyi said.
Ms Bamuturaki then revealed that she had traveled to Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro.
However, lawmakers argued that Ms. Bamuturaki “disregards” the committee and their work.
“Before the audit report came to us, we never came to look for you. Please stop being arrogant,” said Hashim Suleiman, a deputy for the municipality of Nebby.
Ms Bamuturaki was also tasked with explaining how Uganda Airlines management splashed shs788 million into the 600 guests who witnessed the arrival of the first CRJ900 Bombardier aircraft.
This was revealed last week when the committee spoke with the airline's former chairman of the board, Mr. Perez Ahabwe.
Ms. Bamuturaki asked the director in charge of Uganda Airlines' finances, Mr. Paul Turakaiseng, to respond to the matter.
Mr. Turakaizenga acknowledged that the invoice had been inflated and asked for time to be given for the said details to be submitted.
“The costs you mentioned were on the bigger side. And when we had similar and subsequent measures, we agreed on that below. So I think the other was the first of its kind,” he said.
Ms. Bamuturaki was also given seven days to smooth out inconsistencies around her names.
A month ago, the committee learned that the CEO had changed his name from Jennifer Bamuturaki Musime to Jennifer Arnold Lenkay through a survey.
She insistently told MPs that she had abandoned the content of the poll in order to keep her name Jenifer Bamuturaki.
“I'm in a dilemma; I'm wondering who I'm dealing with here. That's why I advise her to ask her name question correctly. I don't care what you want to be called, but let it be legally delivered,” Mr Señony said.
The investigation into the operations, as raised in the auditor general's report for 2020/2021, will continue today and Ms. Bamuturaki is expected to return with all documentation at the request of the committee.