UCC Justifies Foreign Trips
The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has defended millions of shillings spent on officials who travel abroad saying it is within the law.
UCC Communications Director Fred Otunnu told Red Pepper online that these foreign trips benefit Uganda because the commission engages international communication agencies and players surpass the cost of the trips.
Over the weekend a report appeared in one of local dailies suggesting that over Shs10Bn was blown by UCC officials on Foreign Trips.
The report further said that an air ticket cost Shs150m.
But Otunnu refuted this allegation saying the falsehoods were peddled by a disgruntled group of ex workers who lost their jobs after restructuring as their performance was found devoid.
“That’s a cumulative figure for many air tickets put in one LPO and paid off on one day. There has never been any payment of Shs150m for a single ticket for anybody as reported by the media.” Otunnu said.
He said the regulatory body cannot operate in isolation if government is to adopt the trending international technology practices.
“The law (Section 5 (1) (Q) of the UCC Act) mandates the Commission to represent Uganda’s communication sector at national and international fora and organizations relating to its functions,” said Otunnu.
He clarified that that UCC officials have to attend international conferences as they also coordinate the participation of other interested groups such as MPs, academia and civil society.
Uganda, represented by UCC, is a member of several international communication organizations including Universal Postal Union, Pan Africa Postal Union, African Telecom Union, Commonwealth Telecom Organization, International Telecom Satellite Organization and East Africa Communications Organizations.
“These organizations hold meetings in various parts of the world which we are obliged to attend,” He said
“For example there are study group meetings such as ITU which are technical in nature. They are aimed at doing detailed analysis of technology, future technology and equipment numbering among other things. We have to keep up to date,” Otunnu expounded.
Adding that: “We also have conferences for peer-to-peer discussions and exhibitions of technologies. The recent ones were held in Dubai, Thailand and Geneva. You can’t develop a country’s communication technology sector without attending these important exhibitions.”
Otunnu gave the example of the GSMA, a global body that represents mobile operators worldwide and holds annual meetings in Barcelona, Spain.
The conference is usually graced by regulators and policy makers for discussions.
On political heads Otunnu said they are obliged to the plenipotentiary meetings.
He cited then ICT Minister Ruhakana Rugunda in 2012 who led the Uganda delegation to ITU World Telecommunications Development conference in Dubai and also Universal Postal Union Congress in Qatar.
“His successor John Nasasira led the Ugandan delegation to South Korea for the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
He was accompanied by lawmakers and other government officials who mobilized support for Uganda’s election to the body’s top leadership,” Otunnu said.