New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: OPM Fraud - Norway Conducts Own Investigation

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Norway has said it is carrying out its own full investigation into the fraud of donor funds in the Ugandan Prime Minister's Office, then decide on an appropriate plan of action.

"Together with other donor countries, we will make sure that we have all the facts on the table. Funds that cannot be accounted for or funds reported misused must be returned," said the Norwegian Minister for International Development, Heikki Holmås.

In a statement, Holmås said that the only good thing in the whole funds saga was that the fraud was unearthed by Uganda's own audit institution, the Auditor General.

"It is vital to have a national audit institution that is effective and can uncover irregularities and misuse of public funds. I am pleased that the Office of the Auditor General of Norway is to continue its cooperation with the Office of the Auditor General of Uganda," said Holmås.

The stolen monies were aid funds intended for reconstruction in northern Uganda under the northern Uganda under the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan for Northern Uganda (PRDP).

"We have a policy of zero tolerance for corruption and other misuse of funds, and we intend to get to the bottom of this," said Holmås.

It said that over the past few years, several donors including UK, Norway, Sweden, Ireland and Denmark have provided a total of Norwegian Krona1 155m for reconstruction of northern Uganda.

It pointed out that the report by Uganda's Auditor General indicated widespread irregularities and fraud involving NOK75m of the NOK155million about NOK27 of which was from funds provided by Norway.

It also pointed out that funding provided by Norway for reconstruction of northern Uganda ceased in 2011 and the general budget support halted in 2010. It gave two reasons for this. One of the reasons, according to the statement, was Uganda's failure to adequately follow up cases of corruption and the other was Norway's desire to focus its efforts on areas where it has comparative advantages such as energy, climate and gender equality.

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