Parliament’s Budget Committee on Monday agreed to approve a total of 21 billion Shillings budget meant to compensate the Church of Uganda -COU for its land taken by the government to expand Entebbe International Airport.
The committee had earlier rejected this request from the Ministry of Finance that was part of a bigger 3.8 trillion Supplementary Budget.
Legislators sitting on the Budget Committee on Monday held a closed meeting and agreed to sign a report approving the funds for the church land. The report is expected to be presented before the House on Tuesday during a plenary sitting for consideration.
The Budget Committee Vice-Chairperson, Ignatius Mudimi Wamakuyu confirmed the development saying that these outstanding arrears totalling 21.25 billion Shillings will compensate the Church of Uganda for their land used by the government to expand the Entebbe Airport and establish Ministry of Agriculture offices.
He explains that his committee earlier halted the approval of the money following a technical problem that was detected. Wamakuyu says that the request was put under the Ministry of Lands budget but when asked to justify the money, the Ministry officials were ignorant about the request.
Wamakuyu says that by the time, the Ministry of Finance wrote to the committee indicating that the request is transferred under the Uganda Land Commission budget, his committee had concluded its report and already supplied to MPs.
“So that is why we are revisiting this item that was straight forward but not considered at the time,” he said.
Wamakuyu further said that the money is urgently required by the Church of Uganda since the institution also has outstanding obligations to settle.
Igara East MP, Michael Mawanda also noted that this supplementary budget was just deferred pending additional information from the Ministry of Finance He said that the Budget Committee has now deemed it necessary to clear the funds.
Mawanda added that the government ought to pay this money to the Church of Uganda which is also in debt regarding the Church House building along Kampala road. He says that this money will be a big relief towards the debt.
The Church of Uganda, led by the Archbishop, the Most Rev. Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu is currently undertaking fundraising to clear the 48 billion Shillings debt for the Church House building located along Kampala Road.
Equity Bank extended 41 billion Shillings to the Church of Uganda towards the construction of the 16- storey building and currently is owed 40 Billion Shillings. The 8 Billion Shillings is owed to different individuals and entities.
Kaziimba has in the past said that completing the debt will help the Church in its self-governance drive.
In 2017, Equity Bank threatened to take over the structure which was valued at 58.8 Billion Shillings upon completion. In 2018, the Bank again threatened to auction the building after the Church failed to service its loan and accumulated arrears.
To construct the building, Christians and well-wishers contributed about 10.8 Billion Shillings through fundraising but since the money was inadequate, the Church acquired a loan from Equity Bank through its business arm, the Church Commissioners Holding Company Limited in 2010.