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Uganda: House delays rationalisation of Asian property board and NPART pending audit

The rationalization of the Non-Performing Assets Recovery Trust (NPART) and Departed Asians Property Custodian Board will only be finalized after an audit, as directed by Parliament.

During the debate on the Non-Performing Assets Recovery Trust (Amendment) Bill, 2024 on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, Parliament discussed dissolving the Trust, the Board of Trustees, and the Sinking Fund under the NPART. This Trust was created as a mechanism for recovering loans and investments made by the Uganda Commercial Bank (UCB) in 1994, which were overdue at that time.

In 2001, the UCB, a government-owned bank and the largest financial institution in Uganda, was acquired by the Standard Bank of South Africa and merged with Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited.

The proposed Bill aimed to merge the functions of the NPART into the ministry responsible for non-performing assets, in line with the Government’s Policy on Rationalization of Government Agencies and Public Expenditure.

The Committee on Finance, Planning and Economic Development stressed the importance of transparency and accountability, particularly in providing an inventory list of the Trust’s assets.

Chairperson of the committee, Hon. Amos Kankunda, emphasized the necessity of a thorough inventory of the Trust’s assets before any dissolution takes place.

There were concerns raised about repealing the Non-Performing Assets Recovery Trust Act and the lack of transparency during the scrutiny of the Bill.

Hon. Denis Oguzu supported auditing the sinking fund to ensure transparency about the remaining balance of the trust fund account.

The Bill was withdrawn and a one-year period was allocated for conducting an audit before proceeding with any actions.

Similarly, the Assets of Departed Asians (Amendment) Bill, 2024 is also on hold pending an audit of the assets.

The Speaker guided the minister to review the report of the Departed Asians Custodian Board to aid in the audit process.

Government also withdrew the Tier 4 Microfinance Institutions and Money Lenders (Amendment) Bill, 2024, which aimed to rationalize the Uganda Microfinance Regulatory Authority (UMRA).

The committee rejected the rationalization of UMRA into the finance ministry and recommended supporting UMRA adequately instead.

The Speaker emphasized the need for regulating money lenders’ charges to protect consumers from exorbitant rates.

Minister Kasolo withdrew the Bill and committed to working on regulations in this regard.

Content distributed by APO Group on behalf of the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.

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