22 November 2012

Uganda: No Funds Diverted Says Road Fund, UNRA

The Uganda Road Fund (URF) and the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) yesterday dismissed as untrue media reports that sh40b had been diverted by the authority into the purchase of treasury bills for unspecified reasons.

Both URF, which is tasked with financing routine and periodic maintenance of all public roads undertaken by designated agencies and UNRA which is mandated to among others develop and maintain the national roads roundly dismissed the reports as false.

Speaking in an interview, the executive director URF Michael Odongo said there was no such diversion. URF makes quarterly releases to UNRA for road maintenance.

"An audit carried out indicates that there was no such diversion for the purchase of dollars. It is therefore not true," Odongo said adding that following the allegations "we sat with UNRA and resolved those matters."

Peter Ssebanakita, the UNRA boss said given that the quarterly releases from URF is about sh40b, there was no way the authority could divert and inject sh40 into the purchase of treasury bills.

"That would mean that we did not do any work. So the story is not correct," he said, adding that the purchase of Treasury Bills was an elaborate process which leaves a 'paper trail' which can be traced. "Anyone can investigate with Bank of Uganda if there was any such transaction," he said.

Ssebanakita said whereas the law allows the authority to invest surplus funds, the authority has not been able to given that over the last three years the authority has never had any surplus funds.

But Ssebanakita accepted that the authority has been buying forex, which is standard practice world over for paying contractors.

"We deal with a number of international contractors and given that government releases our money in shillings, we normally purchase dollars from Bank of Uganda to pay the contractors and the dealings are between the bank and the contractors. This is standard practice," he said and questioned the motive of the story.

Sections of the media yesterday reported that URF is investigating claims that top officials at UNRF diverted about sh40 billion in funds for roads maintenance to purchase Treasury Bills and forex, for unspecified reasons.

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