The State Minister for Finance, David Bahati has revealed that the government is ready to sell off shares in telecommunications company UTL to any strategic investor in case the company fails to ‘wake up’ in one year’s time.
Hon. Bahati was Thursday appearing before the UTL Select committee of Parliament which he assured that the company has a big potential to make profits again provided certain measures are taken.
UTL which is jointly owned by Libya African Portfolio Green Networks (LAP Green N) and the government of Uganda has been grappling with losses and debts that which have threatened its survival in the telecommunications market.
The issues saw the company’s subscriber count drop enormously leaving only options of providing data and landline service.
“We have resolved, together with the majority shareholder (LAP Green N) to invest in new technology, pay creditors and meet some obligations to make sure the company can run and make profit again,” said Bahati.
“If we also turn the current debt into equity, we could see ourselves cleaning up this company in one year, else, the government will consider looking for a strategic investor and buy off shares,” he added.
Resultant from the cumulative debts and losses, the company over the past years resorted into selling some of her assets to clear some of the debts although others remain outstanding.
Among the debts UTL is struggling with include Shs 22.244 billion with regulator UCC arising from unpaid spectrum fees; Shs 8bn in interconnection fees to MTN; Shs 58.424 billion in accumulated tax to URA for the period between May 2015 – Dec 2015.
Also a total of US $ 7.06 million (Shs. 24.244 billion) is owed to Huawei Technologies Limited which supplied equipment, spares and services to the telecom under LAP Group.