URA Support Staff: I Was Surprised To Get Paid
An employee of Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), who benefited from the Ugx 6 billion reward, has revealed that he did not expect the money paid to 42 government officials as a token of appreciation for winning a tax oil case against Heritage Oil and Gas Company.
The committee on Commissions, Statutory Authority and State Enterprises (COSASE) which is investigating the payment met with five of the officials on February 8, 2017, to explain their roles in the case.
One of them under the support staff , Joseph Angura, an officer in the URA litigation division, revealed to the MPs that he was shocked to learn that he was part of the beneficiaries of the Shs 6 billion payment.
“There was a time our administrative officer came to me to give my bank account. I didn’t even know why they asked for it and I was just surprised to hear that there has been money paid to me. When it was paid, I was told that we were being appreciated for the work that we did. Of course I was happy to see the money,” Angura revealed to the committee members.
“The handshake was paid to us, not because we doing something that was extraordinary. It was paid because we were being appreciated for the work that we did and that has always been our submission,” Angura told the committee
When pressed by legislators to explain what role he played in the arbitration case, Angura stated that he served pleadings.
“We had some instances where the pleadings could be drawn late and we were supposed to file them and make sure they are served to the opposite parties. I remember one time when I was going to serve the pleadings to Kampala Associated Advocates when they were closing their chambers and I was there begging them,” he outlined.
Angura is listed among the support staff and received Ugx 29.5 million from the presidential handshake. He receives Ugx 2.3 million monthly.
Another support staff, Paul Odhiambo, a court clerk under the URA litigation division, who also filed pleadings and served papers from the tax tribunal and photocopying documents, also revealed that he was called by an accounting officer to give his bank account details ahead of payment of the money.
“I got information through a call from the administrative officer for my account number. When I asked her why she needed it, she had been asked to draw a list with account numbers. When I found the money on my account, I found out from accounts what it was for and they told me there was money paid for participation,” Ojiambo revealed.
Ojiambo earns a monthly salary of Ugx 1.6 million and received Ugx 29.5 million as a reward for his work.
Rodney Golooba, a supervisor in litigation division, told the committee that he was paid Ugx 106 million for his role on the team of four legal officers which represented URA at the tax appeals tribunal and the High Court.
“I had a role I played in Ugandan matters in relation to Heritage Oil and Gas and URA. As a legal officer, you are lower in the chain of command so by ordinary implication, I cannot say I re-invented the wheel or wrote a new law or any of those things. So as a legal officer who is trying to make my mark in law, so civil servants do special cases with that case,” Golooba told the MPs.
MPs were shocked to learn that Rose Adakun, an administrative officer received Ugx 29.5 million for photocopying documents in relation to the case. She said she is paid Ugx 2.7 million monthly.
Syson Ainembabazi, a legal officer in the Natural Resource Management Unit received Ugx 106 million and stated that she was a resource person both in Uganda and London when the arbitration case was underway.
Ainembabazi was tasked to explain how many times she went to London, to which she did not give a definite answer, only stating that she recalled four trips.
Committee chairman, Abdu Katuntu expressed concern over failure by URA officials to give evidence on their meetings in London and directed that URA Commissioner General, Doris Akol provides the details of travels to the committee.
The committee is expected to meet Ministry of Energy officials on Friday.