UTC building auctioned for Rwf6.8 billion

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Union Trade Centre. / Internet photo

Union Trade Centre (UTC) building has been auctioned for Rwf6.8 billion, a bid won by Kigali Investment Company (KIC).

The building was being managed by the Government as an abandoned property following the self-exile of tycoon Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, who was the principal shareholder.

In April, Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) seized UTC for nonpayment of taxes and tasked the Government commission that has been managing the facility to clear tax arrears or else the business would be auctioned off.

Following failure to pay taxes, the taxman took a decision to publicly put it on sale in a competitive bid that attracted about 11 local businessmen and investment companies.

At yesterday’s auctioning, all the 11 individual businessmen and companies turned up and a court bailiff officially opened the auction at the initial amount of Rwf6.6 billion, the value of the property.

After a few minutes, only two investment companies (Unity Co and KIC) as well one individual Pascal Kanyandekwe were the only competitors, and in the end, after close to three hours, the bid was won by KIC.

According to the court bailiff, Vedaste Habimana, following the auction, RRA will receive part of the money to clear unpaid tax arrears amounting to Rwf1.2 billion, then KIC will immediately take over the building.

“The auction is done and the building now belongs to Kigali Investment Company. We have officially received the cheque and RRA will get paid the tax arrears. Tomorrow (today) we will give them the papers to immediately take over the building,” he explained.

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Excited Kigali Investment Company (KIC) officials in excitement after winning the bid. / Julius Bizimungu
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KIC representative signs a Rwf6.8 billion cheque after winning the bid as the court bailiff Vedaste Habimana writes. / Julius Bizimungu

Kigali Investment Company is a local investment company that specialises in real estate and currently owns different facilities, including Kigali City Market. The proprietors believe that this will help them grow as a company.

“We are excited having won this bid and we anticipate that this facility will help us raise more profits for our shareholders but also contribute to the government through paying taxes,” said James Rudasingwa, the spokesperson of KIC.

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Kigali Investment Company (KIC) representative James Rudasingwa speaks to some of the media. / Julius Bizimungu
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Many people including the press turned up to witness how the UTC building was auctioned on Monday, downtown. / Julius Bizimungu

KIC was established in 2006 and currently has 10 shareholders, and Rudasingwa noted that having been able to win such a big facility indicates the potential that local people have. He said they don’t expect to evict the existing businesses but rather work with those willing to work with them.

Mass auction of properties owned by tax defaulters has been looming since August 2015. A few months ago, RRA published a list of 250 foreign- and locally-owned businesses that owed the public coffer Rwf62 billion in total tax arrears. UTC was among the defaulters.

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