MPs Vow To Make Recipients of Shs7bn ‘Reward’ Over Oil Case Vomit It
By Serestino Tusingwire
Legislators in the 10th parliament are set to abruptly convene and probe the alleged swindling of tax payers money by big shots in government for winning an oil case.
Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) made payments of over Shs7bn to high ranking government officials in different ministries as a reward (akasiimo) for winning the Heritage/Tullow oil Capital Gains Tax (CGT) case.
In June 2015, a protracted legal battle over capital gains tax between Uganda Revenue Authority & Tullow oil resulted into a settlement of Sh824Bn.
It has now come to light that after the successful conclusion of the case, about Shs7bn was doled out to senior government officials as a reward for their role in facilitating the successful settlement.
URA won a court settlement and therefore decided to reward themselves illegally.
However, as the exact recipients of the payments become known, MPs have begun questioning the payment claiming it is illegal.
Gerald Karuhanga, the Ntungamo Municipality MP, who was one of the witnesses to the court hearings in London that preceded the settlement, said its baffling why money should be paid to government officials.
Karuhanga said government had already released a payment of Shs10Bn to pay the lawyers that represented it, which should have been enough to cater for any work done to win the case.
He claimed that those involved should be held culpable for accepting an illegal payment, ostensibly for doing the jobs they were hired and paid salaries to do.
“We think this is a gross abuse of public resources and certainly, they should be punished.” Karuhanga said.
As a result of pressure from MPs, the Auditor General, John Muwanga, has promised to investigate the payments and deliver his findings to parliament. Some lawmakers said they will petition the Speaker of Parliament and they have demanded for a probe into what they call a ‘dubious payment’.
Some of the officials who received payment include; Doris Akol, who is currently the URA Commissioner General; former Attorney General Peter Nyombi; the deceased ministry of finance permanent secretary, Chris Kassami; and the former Deputy Attorney General, Freddie Ruhindi. Others are KCCA executive director, Jeniffer Musisi, who previously served as the head of URA’s legal department, Lawrence Kiiza, a senior official in the ministry of Finance and the, Solicitor General Francis Atoke among others.