Finance Officials Admit Irregularities in Processing Oil Bonus Cash

1584 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
The Ministry of Finance has admitted that the process of releasing the six billion shillings reward to public servants following a successful oil arbitration case was irregular.

The Ministry of Finance has admitted that the process of releasing the six billion shillings reward to public servants following a successful oil arbitration case was irregular.

The Finance ministry officials including the Minister Matia Kasaija, Permanent Secretary Keith Muhakanizi and Director Budget Kenneth Mugambe were appearing before the Parliament's Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authority and State Enterprise (COSASE)  on Friday. They noted that it was a mistake for an accounting officer of Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to process payment without the permission of the Minister.

Section 25 of the Public Finance Act states that, before an accounting officer processes payments, he or she should get the approval of a minister.
 
The committee has noted that although the URA commissioner general wanted a supplementary budget in the financial year 2015/16 for the reward of the public servants, the Permanent Secretary had advised the commissioner general that a supplementary budget was not feasible.

On requesting the Minister, instead it is the permanent secretary that responded to the request contrary to Section 25 of the Public Finance Act which gives the minister powers to allow for supplementary budget.
 
Tumuhiirwe Turyamuweza, a member of the committee and MP for Rujumbura County questioned the Finance officials on whether it was regular for the permanent secretary to sanction the funds instead of the minister. 

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Minister Kasaija stated that he directed the permanent secretary to work on the expenditure under supplementary budget since he was busy engaged in campaigns. He says it is irregular for an accounting officer to spend money without permission from the minister, adding that they have learnt from their mistakes.

He said this should not have been the case as the law is clear on who should authorise the supplementary budget.

The Permanent Secretary Keith Muhakanizi on his part said he acted as he was directed by his minister. He said he consulted the minister and the minister said he was willing to give a supplementary.

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Committee chairperson, Abdu Katuntu questioned whether it was correct for URA who had already spent the money from a budgeted item, to ask for supplementary to replenish what they had already used.

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The committee seeks to find out, under what law did URA Commissioner General Doris Akol release the money.

The Ministry also stated that it was an error for the money requested for to appear as money for teachers' pay instead of a bonus for the civil servants.

Five officials from the ministry of finance received part of the six billion shillings 'presidential handshake.' Muhakanizi received 67 million shillings. According to Muhakanizi, he was not aware of the fact that he would be rewarded, but only welcomed it since he was not doing well financially.
 

 

About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.