I’m under no travel ban – Kutesa

Embattled Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kahamba Kutesa says is a free man who can travel anywhere in the World without restrictions.

Appearing before the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs committee, Kutesa used his recent trip to Brussels in Belgium to assure the MPs that he can freely travel out of the country.

Kutesa who is also Mawogola MP was responding to a concern raised by Kawempe  North MP Latif Ssebaggala,  who asked him to explain his standing before the international community owing to bribery allegations against him.

Kutesa’s name featured prominently in the trial of a Chinese business executive, Patrick Ho Chi Ping who was convicted by a US court over bribery charges.

Kutesa received  $500,000 (Shs 1.9 billion) from the Chinese who also paid the same amount to President Yoweri Museveni as an incentive to be granted business favours.

Disturbed by Ssebaggala’s question, Kutesa wondered why the concern was coming up given that the committee’s interface with him was rescheduled from last week because he was away in Brussels.

“The meeting of this committee was postponed last week, why? Because I was in Brussels, so, I am not under any threat, I travel wherever it is,” Kutesa said.

He did not respond to questions about his involvement with Ho.

Kutesa meanwhile asked the MPs to approve the Ministry of Foreign Affairs request for funds in next financial year’s budged to cater for government’s contributions to international bodies.

“The Ministry of Finance has not been remitting these fees and currently we are in arrears of Shs 65 billion. With these arrears, the country has been sanctioned and we cannot contribute in these meetings,” Kutesa said.

He also told MPs that government’s properties abroad are in a sorry state and requested the committee to recommend that the missions abroad retain the Non Tax Revenue (NTR) for renovation and maintenance of the properties.

“On average, the Ministry collects Shs 13.5 billion from NTR but as a requirement of the Public Finance Management Act, we remit this to the consolidated fund. As a means of getting an additional Shs 20 billion, we be allowed to retain the NTR and finding the balance of Shs 6.5 billion for maintenance of these  properties abroad,” he said.

Mbale Municipality MP Jack Wamanga Wamai suggeated to Kutesa that the Ministry should instead table a bill so that the NTR can be used to renovate the properties abroad.