MPs Quiz Ministry Officials Over Petroleum Fund Revenue
Officials from the Ministry of Finance have been questioned over irregularities in management of revenues meant for the petroleum fund.
The committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) met with the officials, led by Minister Matia Kasaija to discuss how much Uganda has collected in oil revenues.
During the meeting held today March 7, 2017 at Parliament, the committee heard that the ministry failed to transfer Ugx 1.3 trillion from government’s oil revenue accounts to a newly created Petroleum Fund.
Instead, according to the Commissioner Financial Management Systems in the Ministry of Finance, Godfrey Semugooma, after the petroleum account was opened in June 2015, the Ugx 1.3 trillion that was on government oil accounts was transferred to the consolidated account.
Semagooma revealed that this was done after seeking a legal opinion from the Solicitor General’s office.
The Petroleum Fund was established under Section 56 of the Public Finance Management Act 2015, where all revenues from the oil and gas sector towards government would be deposited.
When questioned by MPs on why the transfers were not made to the petroleum fund, the Permanent Secretary, Secretary to Treasury, Keith Muhakanizi explained that there had been delays to assent to the law.
Muhakanizi further stated that the ministry needed at least a month to come up with a clear framework on how the petroleum account would operate.
Government closed the oil revenue accounts which were under the Accountant general’s supervision on June 30. 2015, to create two dollar and shilling accounts under the petroleum account.
However, committee members, led by committee chairperson, Abdu Katuntu wondered why the ministry did not make the transfers after the law had been passed.
Katuntu was particularly incensed over the fact that government had ring-fenced the funds however the ministry ignored this and transferred the money to the consolidated fund.
The MPs opined that government could have utilized part of the petroleum revenues in the consolidated fund to pay the Shs 6 billion bonus payment to the 42 government officers.
Kasaija pleaded with the MPs to give the ministry time to look at the reports on the deposits and give a detailed report.
The committee gave them up to Friday this week to do so, as well as give a breakdown of all the sources of revenue so far received on the account.
Currently, petroleum fund shillings account has Ugx 10 billion shillings and $72.5 million deposited onto it.