31 October 2012

Uganda: MPs Want OPM PS Out Over Fraud

United Kingdom becomes the latest country to suspend aid to Uganda.  The UK has even launched independent investigations into the alleged fraud. ( Resource: UK Cuts Aid and Launches Investigation Over Fraud in Uganda )

The chairperson of the Greater North Parliamentary Forum Felix Okot Ogong has said that all public officials implicated in the loss of funds meant for northern Uganda should be made to pay for them.

MPs have demanded that the permanent secretary in the office of the Prime Minister, Pius Bigirimana be interdicted.

"The PS and other culpable officials should be held responsible for the loss of funds and interdicted as investigations take place," Ogong told Parliament on Tuesday.

In a press conference in Parliament, Geoffrey Ekanya (Tororo county MP) said they were giving Premier Amama Mbabazi 30 days to interdict Birigimana.

Short of that, they will take action against the permanent secretary, Ekanya warned.

"According to the law, it is the permanent secretary who is accountable for public funds. They are exercising double standards. Why interdict junior officials and leave out the person who is responsible?" Ekanya asked.

Ogong made a statement to the House in relation to the loss of funds under the Premier's office and the subsequent cutting of aid by the Irish government.

The Irish Government has cut sh52.8b (16m Euro) of aid to Uganda on grounds that it is being mismanaged.

The Irish government withdrew the aid last Friday following the disappearance of sh13.2b from the Prime Minister's office.

The money in question was allegedly transferred to accounts of officials in the Premier's office.

It had been earmarked for education, policing and tackling HIV/AIDS in the poorest regions, like northern Uganda.

"The Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi should outline how the lost funds are to be recovered and what measures he is taking about the loss," Ogong said.

Ogong said the forum and donors should hold a meeting so that no further aid meant for northern and eastern Uganda is cut off.

"We urge donors not to cut further aid meant for northern and eastern Uganda. The north has suffered for a long time from war and it needs to catch up with the pace of development of other parts of the country," Ogong said.

He pointed at the high unemployment, poverty, high mortality and infant rates in northern Uganda, yet the region seems to have been ignored.

"Where is the affirmative action and when will the north catch up with the rest of Uganda?" he asked.

He asked that government should audit programs that government undertook such as Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) and Northern Uganda Social Action Fund I and II to ascertain whether there was value for money.

Ogong also suggested that the auditor general should expeditiously audit the office of the Prime Minister to prevent any further mismanagement of funds.

Jacob Oulanyah - the Deputy Speaker of Parliament - asked Ogong to move a motion so that his recommendations can be passed by Parliament.

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