MPs Adopt COSASE Report, Call For Shs 6B Refund
Parliament has adopted a report by the Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), recommending that 42 government officials who received Ugx 6 billion bonus payment refund the money.
The COSASE report was tabled and debated during the plenary sitting of June 22, 2017, implicating the officials of soliciting for the payment of the monies, paid to them for winning a tax oil case between government and Heritage Oil and Gas in London.
The committee was tasked to investigate claims that the officials, through the Uganda revenue Authority (URA) Commissioner General, Doris Akol, solicited for the payment from President Yoweri Museveni, contrary to standard practices of rewarding public officers.
In the committee report, the MPs recommended that all the funds paid out of the URA account to the beneficiaries of the “handshake” should be refunded with immediate effect.
Hon Katuntu noted that the funds were for activities budgeted for under the URA budget and was expenditure not budgeted for, therefore a diversion of the Ugx 6 billion without lawful authority from the URA Board.
He further said the Inspectorate of Government (IGG) should institute investigations against the officials for possible criminal offences.
During the sitting, there was drama when the Deputy Attorney General, Mwesigwa Rukutana clashed with Katuntu over some of the recommendations in the report.
Rukutana noted that the recommendation on refund of the Ugx 6 billion should be shelved pending investigation by the IGG.
He said it would be double jeopardy for the officials to refund the monies yet there is a possibility of the IGG investigating them and not finding them culpable.
“Suppose the IGG carries out investigations and finds out that actually, the officers are not culpable or guilty, yet you have already condemned them to refund the money and be held accountable?” Rukutana asked.
However, Katuntu rejected the notion, wondering whether the Deputy AG had read the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) regarding refund of monies if mischarged or received irregularly. He cited Sections 78, 79 and 80 of the Act which provide criminal offences in regard to this.
He further defended the recommendation for the IGG to investigate the officials, noting that the committee had detected that possible crimes had been committed by the officials in receiving the bonus payment.
“The committee investigated and in the process, noted the possibility of criminal offices having been committed. Since we are not a prosecuting agency, we referred this to the IGG,” Katuntu said.
National Female Youth MP, Anne Adeke the beneficiaries must give public apologies to all Ugandans for their misdeeds. She noted that some of the beneficiaries acted arrogant and with impunity during their interface with the committee.
She demanded that they are forced to publicly apologize to Ugandans for misusing taxpayers’ money.