State House has sold off President Musevenis old jet ending, public criticism that the President was lavishly keeping two luxurious jets for his comfort at the expense of taxpayers.
State House Comptroller Richard Muhinda told MPs on the Presidential Affairs Committee that the Gulfstream IV, which the government bought 10 years ago, was sold in December 2009 in the US-- in a deal that fetched the country $10 million (about Shs20 billion), half the expected value.
I am happy to announce that the old presidential jet has been finally sold at a cost of $10 million, Mr Muhinda said. We sold it in the US and the money was subsequently transferred to the Consolidated Fund in Bank of Uganda.
While Mr Muhinda insists that it was a good deal, given the fact that other countries with 66 Gulfstream IV jets have failed to sell theirs, the Shs20 billion is less than the Shs40 billion, State House had projected to earn from the deal two years ago. The jet was bought at Shs60 billion.
The jet was sold after President Museveni acquired a new luxurious $48 million Gulfstream V last year. The new jet was bought using a loan from Bank of Uganda. However, out of the $48 million (about Shs96 billion), State House has so far paid back Shs14.2 billion.
In 2000, International Monetary Fund (IMF) delayed but ultimately agreed, to approve a $640m debt relief for Uganda while seeking an explanation as to why an expensive private aircraft of $30 million (about Shs60 billion) was acquired for Mr Museveni.
The purchase had not been disclosed to donors and was revealed only when the relief decision was about to be announced. The donors questioned why a poor country should enjoy the luxury of a private aircraft for its president, when heads of state of much richer countries did not.
Asked who exactly bought the jet, Mr Muhinda said State House contracted a US-based sales agent, Mike Ellis Associates which handled the sale on its half.
We took the jet to US in October last year and thats why we were able to sell it despite the effects of the financial global meltdown that had delayed the sale, Mr Muhinda said.