URA Defends UGX 6B Tax Dispute Pay Out

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In short
In a statement issued today, Sarah Birungi Banage, the Assistant Commissioner Public and Corporate Affairs defends the payment, stating that following Ugandas victory, the Attorney Generals office recommended that the multi sectoral team on the case be commended and appreciated with a Presidential Handshake.

The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has defended government's decision to pay six billion shillings to government officials in relation to oil company arbitration case.

Reports emerged that at least 42 individuals, mainly from URA and Ministries of Justice, Finance and Energy received the money as bonuses for helping government win a tax case against Heritage Oil and Gas Company Limited, that saw a combined total of over 1 trillion ($700m) earned by government.
 
A number of correspondences seen by Uganda Radio Network show that President Yoweri Museveni met with Doris Akol, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Commissioner General on May 17, 2015 at Rwakitura in Kiruhura District to discuss government's court win over Heritage Oil and Gas Limited in early 2015.
 
Akol wrote a follow up letter to President Yoweri Museveni on June 26, 2015, reminding him of the 6 billion "presidential handshake" in appreciation of a team of 42 members who handled the tax arbitration case in London.
 
In a statement issued today, Sarah Birungi Banage, the Assistant Commissioner Public and Corporate Affairs defends the payment, stating that following Uganda's victory, the Attorney General's office recommended that the multi-sectoral team on the case be commended and appreciated with a Presidential Handshake.
 
"It is standard international best practice for employees to receive bonus payments/ or honoraria for exemplary performance in both the public and the private sector. Equally under the Ugandan Constitution; the President has a prerogative as a fountain of honour to reward exemplary performance and this has been exhibited in the fields of health, academia, sports to mention a few," Banage says.

In admitting that the officials received their payments, Banage explains that the payments went through the necessary approvals as required by the Public Finance Management Act and the Auditor General duly issued an audit warrant to authorise spending.
 
The revenue authority dismissed reports that some of the current and former employees listed in media publications received the money. They include Saka M Henry, URA Commissioner Domestic Taxes, Kateshumbwa Dicksons, Commissioner of Customs, Kyomuhendo Irene, Nabwire Agnes W, Nyakwera Jennipher, Nanziri Justine Stella, Wabokha Robert, Sebyala Samuel, Semombwe Charles, Patrick Mukiibi, and Otonga Michael Ochan.
 
The payments have caused wide public debate and furore, with sections of the society, including Members of Parliament calling it unfair and that the officials should refund the money.

 

About the author

Olive Eyotaru
Olive Eyotaru is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Eyotaru has been a URN staff member since February 2015.

Eyotaru started practising journalism while still studying at Uganda Christian University. She was a reporter with Ultimate Media Consult Ltd between 2005 and 2007.

In 2009, Eyotaru joined Monitor Publications Limited, under KFM Radio as a parliamentary and business reporter. Consequently, Eyotaru started writing for the Daily Monitor newspaper until January 2015, when she moved to URN.

She is interested in reporting about politics, health, human rights, business and sports.