Three officials who were beneficiaries of the Ugx 6 billion presidential handshake have defended their roles in the oil tax arbitration case.
Former Ministry of Energy Permanent Secretary, Kabagambe Kaliisa, former URA Commissioner General, Allen Kagina and former URA Commissioner Legal and Board Affairs, Jennifer Musisi appeared before the Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises committee to explain how they benefited from the cash bonus.
Kabagambe, who was the first witness before the committee on March 2, 2017, told the MPs that he was pivotal in advising the government team on technical matters which arose during the arbitration process.
Asked by the MPs whether he solicited for the reward, Kabagambe denied this several times, stating that at no point did he or any of the 42 beneficiaries of the presidential handshake solicit for the money from the President.
He revealed that he was informed of the cash bonus when he was called by URA officials to provide details of his bank account.
“I received a reward because someone appreciated the work I had done,” Kabagambe said.
Kagina, who now heads UNRA, also told the committee that the President suggested the proposal for a reward to the team, and not the team.
Kagina, who received Ugx 100 million, revealed that in April 2013, the President called her, together with her URA colleagues Doris Akol and Ali Ssekatawa after government won the jurisdiction case, and congratulated them upon the success.
She added that it was at the meeting that the President suggested that he would reward the team for their work.
Musisi, on the other hand, stated that the arbitration case was a complex one which placed Uganda’s economy and oil sector at risk.
She said she had been called by the President on several occasions to discuss the benefits and risks involved in the case, after some third parties had intimated to him about the capital gains tax of $434 million.
Asked by some legislators including Kiruhura Woman MP, Sheila Mwine on whether her appointment as KCCA Executive Director, after leaving URA in January 2011, was a reward for her work, Musisi dismissed this.
She however revealed to the MPs that she regretted taking up her current position, adding that she did it out of sacrifice and love for the country.
“Because I love my country and wanted to make a difference, I decided to make the sacrifice. Had I known what this job involves at the time the President asked me to take it up, I would have declined and preferred to be self-employed,” Musisi stated.
She however advised the committee to push government to amend the current Public Standing Orders. In her opinion, there is no current policy or scheme to reward fairly officers who have done outstanding work.
“There should be a clearer way to guide rewards because I see the President giving awards to people , religious leaders, athletes, car washers, market people so I don’t know whether those are rewards, awards or gifts or handshakes,” she said.