The Aya’s are back in the headlines and not for a good reason


(Posted 24th March 2015)

The Aya brothers, notorious for promising in 2006 to finish their hotel at a rate of one floor a week ahead of the 2007 Commonwealth Summit and repeatedly afterwards uttering empty promises that the hotel would be finished – it still is not complete and thereby raising questions about Hilton’s apparent continued association with the project – have once again hit the local headlines.

Accusing the Uganda Revenue Authority and the Ministry of Finance of sabotaging his project over demands that taxes and duty has to be paid, have other hotel owners poured scorn over the brothers’ claims. ‘If they has finished the hotel in 2007 they would have been able to take advantage of the special deal to import materials and equipment free of taxes and duty. That deal long expired. They never finished their hotel and went piece meal with their construction. They must take us all for fools if they think they can now demand equal treatment compared to us who finished our hotels. We, after the summit, suffered low occupancies for a long time and the tax and duty relief at least helped to compensate somehow for that. They have nothing to show for yet and still they beg and demand and threaten. I can see that if URA or the ministry give in that they might be sued by other hoteliers for granting exemptions which are not provided for in law or by regulations’ said one regular hospitality source on condition of anonymity.

Company chairman M. Hamid reportedly threatened to abandon the project if not granted the necessary exemptions, saying all staff working on the project could be sacked until they get their deal, using blunt force rather than seeking accommodation of his demands behind closed doors.

URA sources are quoted to have laid the decision on the door of the finance ministry but they are under increased scrutiny by not just the public at large but also parliamentary committees. It is those committees who would no doubt raise a storm of outrage over giving, what can only be described as nonperformers, tax and duty remission. Similar cases have in the past led to threats by parliamentary committees to call for their sacking or even sanction ministers. Such a potential confrontation with parliament makes it anyone’s guess if a minister is willing to stick his or her neck out for a private enterprise which has only attracted negative press publicity ever since the project was started and has in nearly 8 years failed to finish. Watch this space.