PAC wants State House to compulsorily acquire 8bn national housing land

Legislators on the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament want State House to pay up Shs 200m outstanding arrears for the land belonging to National Housing and Construction Corporation.

This is after Statehouse reportedly declined to pay the Shs 8.4bn billed by the Construction company.

The recommendations are contained in the 2014/2015 report of the auditor general on entities with unqualified opinion on State House that was tabled on the floor of Parliament on Wednesday.

The property in contention is owned by National Housing and Construction Corporation is located on plot 1 Kyagwe Road-Nakasero and is currently occupied by State House and is enclosed within the perimeter fence of State House.

Documents before Parliament indicate that although National Housing and Construction Company has been demanding arrears of Shs 201.1m from State House, the arrears have not been reflected in the financial statements.

Officials at State House denied refusing to pay up the rent arrears saying that whereas State House had offered to purchase the plot of land, the property was overvalued putting the price at Shs 8.4bn making it prohibitive to procure.

After the duo refused to agree on the price, the matter was then referred to the Solicitor General with the view of acquiring the plot compulsorily.

However, plans by State House to compulsorily acquire the property was protested by the Committee, wondering why State House didn’t include the outstanding rental arrears in the financial statements, saying the actions  distort the accuracy of the financial position of State House.

In their recommendations to Parliament, the Committee wants State House to reflect the rent arrears in their financial statements and clear the outstanding Shs 201.1m.

On the proposal to compulsorily acquire the land, the Committee has called for strict adherence to the lawful procedure for acquisition of land as enshrined in the Constitution and the Land Acquisition Act, Cap 226.

State House is also at logger heads with the proprietor of Okello House whose rent arrears at the time of the audit stood at Shs 1,272,363,507bn.

During the meeting, State House informed the Committee that at the time of audit, State house had not yet paid rent to the land lord as there was no valid tenancy agreement since 2013.

The tenancy agreement could not reportedly be renewed since the premise was a subject of mortgage dispute between the lender (Standard Chartered bank and the Borrower (Landlord) and the two Parties have since then resolved their disputes and tenancy agreements were signed against which payments have since been made.

However, due to the absence of supporting evidence of rent payment, the Committee declined to buy State House’s explanations.

“The Accounting Officer should therefore pay the rent arrears and submit to Parliament evidence of payment and a new tenancy agreement within two (2) weeks from the adoption of this report,” the report read in part.