President Museveni has directed Finance minister Matia Kasaija to give the financially troubled Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) a bailout of Shs20 billion to help the national broadcaster get back on its feet.
On October 12, Mr Museveni wrote to the Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Mr Frank Tumwebaze, and copied in, among others, the minister of Finance, the permanent secretary in the same ministry, who also doubles as the Secretary to the Treasury, and the secretary general of the ruling NRM.
“The Minister of Finance should also plan to capitalise UBC with a one-off fund to enable it take off,” Mr Museveni’s letter reads in part.
The directive was issued after it emerged that the national broadcaster’s debt burden had soared to within the region of Shs29 billion.
The indebtedness of the corporation, which runs two television stations and 11 FM radio stations, is believed to be the source of operational problems that it has been experiencing for the last couple of years.
The UBC managing director, Mr Winston Agaba, confirmed that the corporation is in dire straits, explaining that while the Uganda Broadcasting Act of 2005 had envisaged that the corporation would partly survive on a TV tax, it has never become operational, leaving it in financial mire.
Mr Agaba declined to reveal the extent of indebtedness of the corporation, but sources within the company have since told the Saturday Monitor that it owes at least Shs28.3billion to various individuals and organisations.
It has now emerged that Mr Museveni, who blamed the corporation’s huge debt on what he described as lack of seriousness on the part of a previous board of directors, also directed that the debts be subjected to some scrutiny.
In the same letter, Mr Museveni directed all government agencies to do more business with UBC.
Mr Tumwebaze yesterday confirmed the President’s directive, saying it had been prompted by a request from his ministry. The money is, however, yet to be released.
“We requested for Shs20b which the President agreed to, but the Ministry of Finance is first of all doing a forensic audit into UBC before it releases the funds,” he said.