16 July 2007

Uganda: Museveni Suspends State House Scholarships

Kampala — THE State House comptroller on Friday announced that President Yoweri Museveni had indefinitely suspended the State House scholarship scheme.

Richard Muhinda, who also doubles as the State House Permanent Secretary, told the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee that Mr Museveni had issued a directive that the scheme be suspended effective this financial year.

But Mr Muhindo clarified that students enrolled under the previous State House scholarship scheme would be allowed to complete their studies.

"The scholarship scheme has been suspended to pave way for a convenient presidential fees contribution scheme. There will be no further beneficiaries to this effect as we wait for a new scheme apart from the finalists," said Mr Muhinda.

But Daily Monitor has learnt that a new scholarship scheme is underway. Mr Museveni will reportedly sponsor at least two students from each war-ravaged area.

The presidential State House scholarship scheme is meant for the underprivileged members of the society and children of fallen comrades.

"Unlike the previous one, the new scheme targets students from war zones to address underdevelopment concerns in these areas," Mr Muhinda said. He, however, did not name the areas perceived to be war- raved.

Asked why Mr Museveni had opted to phase out the previous scheme, Mr Muhindo could not give sufficient details on the matter but maintained that the new move is meant to cut on the increasing arrears from the scheme.

The committee heard that due to the presidential scholarships, the 2004/05 Auditor General's report found that State House domestic arrears increased with a whopping financial gap amounting to over Shs2.3 billion.

The committee seconded the President's move, saying the scholarship scheme had increased domestic areas for State House.

The suspension of the scholarships comes amidst intense criticism from the opposition that it is only benefiting National Resistance Movement cadres. Budadiri West MP Nandala Mafabi (committee Chairperson) demanded that Mr Muhinda provides a detailed list of all the previous beneficiaries to Parliament.

"It is not proper for State House to conceal scholarship particulars for beneficiaries yet these are assumed to be disadvantaged persons. To be satisfied that there is no foul play, they [State House] must present this list," Mr Nandala said.

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