MPs question ISO on Compensation of Ugandan Traders
The Parliamentary Select Committee that is interrogating the compensation of Ugandan traders who supplied goods and services to South Sudan, was on Wednesday 3rd April meeting with the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) at Parliament. The team was led by Mwesigye Dan who is the former Director of Finance ISO, and Pius Alitema was making a presentation on the matter. ISO says it was contracted by Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to verify the 132 companies and individuals.
Pius Alitema said that in their findings, only a total of 10 companies and individuals had been covered and verified by a joint committee from Uganda and the South Sudan government. These were; Rubya Investments, Kibungo Enterprise, Aponye Uganda Limited, Afro Kai Limited, Swift Commodities, Sunrise Commodities, Ms Sophi Omari, Apo General Agencies, Ropani International and KK Transporters.
The report also stated that the majority of these 132 companies and individuals had documents and that only a few lacked proper documentation to substantiate their claims. However, there was no concrete evidence to show if some of these companies were contracted to supply departments of the South Sudanese government or individuals and private entities.
The ISO also noted that as per files and statement of verifications, some of the 10 companies had been paid half the money when the Memorandum of Understanding and Bilateral Agreements between the two governments were signed. The government of Uganda had also recommended that South Sudan pay the rest of the money.
When asked by the committee if they had corresponded with the South Sudan government in their review and interrogations, the ISO responded that their Terms of Reference (ToR) did not permit them to. However, they elaborated that in their recommendations to their contractor, they suggested that a joint committee is formed to further review and interrogate the compensation claims.
The committee chaired by the Kyankwanzi District Woman MP, Ann Maria Nankabirwa, then requested that a copy of the ToR be availed to them to understand ISO’s scope of work. To their disappointment, the team from ISO did not have it with them and promised to have it sent to them as soon as possible.
The Masaka Municipality MP, Hon Mathias Mpuuga commended the efforts by ISO to look into this but said that the PSST (Ministry of Finance) gave them a job that is not doable. He riposted on what ISO that they were not provided with all the documents by the PSST and said this should have been an indicator that this was outside their mandate.
The team from ISO could not answer questions such as how much government spent on them to conduct this review, the actual size of the team that did the review and how long the review and verification process took. This compelled the committee to end the meeting until ISO prepares a more elaborate and factual presentation that is not based on assumptions.
The Select Committee is currently inquiring into a payment of Shs 40 billion to 10 Ugandan companies that supplied goods to South Sudan and were supposed to also meet Hon. Kahinda Otafiire who did not show up.