10 January 2013

Uganda: Donors Accepting Refunded Aid 'Unfortunate' - Official

The head of the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU), Cissy Kagaba, has labeled the recent move by the Irish Government to accept money from Uganda's Consolidated Fund as 'unfortunate.'

On Jan. 7, the Uganda government returned up to 4m Euros (about Ushs 14b) of Irish aid money stolen from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) which was meant for the Peace Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) in northern Uganda.

"It is rather unfortunate that donors are accepting money taken from the consolidated fund because this does not solve the problem (corruption)," Kagaba told The Independent in a telephone interview.

"If they say they are friends of Uganda, they should realize that this is double jeopardy for Ugandans since refunded money from the consolidated fund means that ordinary Ugandans will be deprived of essential services."

Kagaba insisted that instead the donors should put pressure on government to ensure that the money stolen by its thieving officials gets recovered.

She re-echoed the civil society stance they took in December last year when they came out to protest the government move to use money from the consolidated fund to refund billions of stolen money.

In a statement released on Dec. 14 civil society noted that they were shocked and utterly disappointed to learn of the recent foul play by the Government through their decision to refund stolen OPM funds using taxpayer's money.

"Why should innocent Ugandans suffer at the hands of a small click of thieves at OPM? The intended refund is an insult to the people of Uganda and one wonders whether our leaders still have a conscience," the statement read in part.

"Government's decision to refund the stolen OPM funds is a confirmation of what regime longevity and survival can do to a country."

The civil society group noted that the office of the auditor general that is part of government had already produced a report that can be used to apprehend the thieves yet the same government decided to again 'steal' from its people by diverting monies that would have been used to improve service delivery.

"When those in custody of our resources decide to divert monies meant for dying children and pregnant mothers, in order to build a political patronage system of survival one is left wondering how far our government will continue to blatantly and arrogantly rob its citizens," the statement said.

Kagaba reiterated that refunding the money from the consolidated fund is no guarantee that the money will not be stolen again. She said the donors should know that this is a government gimmick aimed at hoodwinking them that the government has reformed.

"By accepting the money, they have set the country on course for a vicious cycle where they give money to Uganda, it is stolen, they demand it is paid back, it gets paid back and when contented they release more money which will be stolen again and the cycle continues.

Kagaba said window dressing the problem would not take the corruption cancer away.

She insisted that the donors should have realized by now that Uganda is a high-risk country when it comes to corruption and come up with mechanisms to ensure that whatever money they send to Uganda is very well utilized.

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