MPS QUESTION UTL PHONE DEAL WITH SUDAN FIRM

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

MPS have questioned the deal between uganda telecom (utl) and a Sudanese company called Gemtel. The legislators want the information and communication technology minister, Ham Muliira, to explain the contract that was not approved by the Government.

The chairperson of the committee on commissions and state enterprises, John Odit (Erute South), yesterday also expressed the concern that under the deal the callers were not paying taxes.

He said: "Callers use utl's mobile and fixed lines using Uganda's code (+256) to make calls from Sudan to Uganda without paying taxes. We are concerned why the Uganda Communications Commission, which regulates the sector, is not aware of this deal."

The MPs wanted to know why the communications commission allowed utl to do business outside Uganda's borders without giving chance to other service providers like MTN and Celtel Uganda.

They also sought to know how much revenue Gemtel was remitting to the Government. These issues were raised when the head of the commission, Patrick Masambu, appeared before the committee last week. After the grilling in Parliament, Masambu recorded a statement at the Police headquarters.

At Parliament, Masambu admitted that utl operates in Sudan but the commission does control its activities: "We issue operational licences but do not control operation areas of the service providers."

The MPs advised the commission to get means of detecting revenue generated by the telecommunication companies and ensure that they remit 1% of it for the development of communication in rural areas. However, Masambu explained: "Installing a machine for each service provider is expensive."

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