Auditor General, Governor to appear over oil cash bonuses

Bank of Uganda Governor Tumusiime Mutebile
Bank of Uganda Governor Tumusiime Mutebile. File Photo.

Parliament’s oil cash probe committee has invited Bank of Uganda Governor Tumusiime Mutebile and Auditor General John Muwanga over the Shillings 6 billion payment to top government officials.

Also summoned to appear before the committee on Monday is the Inspector General of Government (IGG) Irene Mulyagonja

The committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), currently investigating the payment to 42 officials for their role in the Heritage Oil and Gas arbitration case wants the three to appear to explain their role in the payments.

The Shillings six billion payment was portioned out as a reward for the role played by the government officials in the case that fetched Uganda a total of Shillings 2.4 trillion (700 million Dollars) against the UK-based Heritage Oil and its Anglo-Irish partner Tullow Oil PLC.

Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu, the committee chairperson said that the three are expected before his committee with the Governor appearing at 10:00am and the Auditor General  later, before  the IGG at midday. Katuntu did not divulge details why the three are expected.

However, payment correspondences indicate that on November 1, 2016, Auditor General John Muwanga issued an audit warrant for the refund of Shillings 6 billion to Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).

This was in response to Finance Minister Matia Kasaija’s October 20, 2016, request to grant 6 billion credit on the Consolidated Fund for supplementary recurrent expenditure to URA for the financial year 2016/2017.

An audit warrant is provided for under Article 154(3) of the Constitution and the Public Finance and Management Act, 2015. It is not necessarily a clearance of payments but a release warrant issued on condition that auditors have to go back and carry out post-audit of the expenditures to ascertain whether public funds were used in accordance with the rules and regulations.

Although Kasaija wrote to Muwanga on October 20, 2016, correspondences indicate that the URA Commissioner General, Doris Akol who acted as the accounting officer of the reward, after wiring money to the beneficiaries in July, She wrote to Kasaija on August 15, 2016, informing him that the beneficiaries of the presidential handshake had already been paid and was demanding a refund of the Shillings 6 billion.

In her letter Akol indicated that the Secretary to the Treasury, Keith Muhakanizi, in his letter to her dated July 8, 2016, authorised URA to use part of its budget to finance the presidential handshake.

According to Akol, Muhakanizi promised her that a supplementary budget would be provided to URA in the course of the financial year. However all these correspondences were not copied to the Auditor General.

– Uganda Radio Network