26 June 2019

Uganda: MPs Reject Government Report On Bou Currency Saga

Photo: Daily Monitor
Bank of Uganda (file photo)

Parliament — Members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday watered down a preliminary government report that had promised to go to the bottom of the currency saga eating up the central bank.

The MPs described the statement by the junior Finance minister, Mr David Bahati, as "confusing" and "lacking".

The MPs, including a senior minister, have demanded for a serious report detailing what exactly happened.

Trouble started after Mr Bahati indicated in his two page report that he would not delve into the core of evidence because of ongoing investigations.

He said there was no threat to the economy.

He asked MPs and the public to desist from "reckless statements".

Mr Bahati emphasised: "So far there is no indication that this incident will affect our economy negatively especially in terms of inflation. I appeal to the public to restrain from perpetuating false information that could compromise the investigations."

Mr Bahati added: "I assure the public that we shall go to the bottom of this matter and the truth will be known and given to the general public in a timely manner."

The minister also narrated the ordeal, which has seen three BoU officials implicated and charged with corruption and concealing corrupt tendencies.

He promised that the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance have confidence in what has been discovered by the investigations, and asked MPs to rest assured.

"The investigations so far are going on well and we hope that they will be concluded soon. The Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, together with BoU, still await the fina1 report from the Anti-Corruption Unit," Mr Bahati said.

However, speaking one after another, infuriated lawmakers said Mr Bahati's statement fell short of substance and sought to reject the same with contempt.

The MPs asked Mr Bahati to enrich his report with all unanswered questions pertaining as to whether there was extra money that was printed or not, and who the players are in the breach of provisions for chartered plane services.

Bukoto East MP Florence Namayanja (DP) pointed the minister to the conflicting information between the police and the government spokesperson. She said the fact that Mr Bahati made no reference to the clash and how it has been addressed by the government, is in itself horrible and taints the report.

In an unusual development, the government chief whip, Ms Ruth Nankabirwa, took a swipe at Mr Bahati, poking holes in his report.

Whereas the Cabinet operated on the principle of collective responsibility, Ms Nankabirwa, a member of the Cabinet, said she was speaking as an elected Member for Kiboga District.

Ms Nankabirwa said Mr Bahati's statement was "confusing".

"Yes, you don't want to compromise the investigations but what was in that pallet? We need to know such that we can be at rest. We also need to know the owners of the extra pallets," Ms Nankabirwa said.

Agreeing with Ms Nankabirwa, Ms Kadaga tasked Mr Bahati to explain when the police is completing the investigations. They also want to know when Lt Col Edith Nakalema is finishing her investigations and where she is taking them.

Opposition chief whip Ibrahim Semujju Nganda pointed the House to what he called "grave mess" eating up the government and [possibility of] a cover-up in the currency saga.

The MPs also cited the previous clashes between police and government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo and the Cabinet clash between Ms Nankabirwa and Mr Bahati.

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