URA Breaks Silence On Shs6bn Bonanza Saga
By Serestino Tusingwire
Following continued pressure from media and activists about the alleged illegal sharing of tax payers’ money among government top shots, the Uganda Revenue Authority has come out to give clarification on the matter.
It has been reported all over media that URA made payments of over Shs6bn 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 and about Shs6bn was doled out to senior government officials as a reward for their role in facilitating the successful settlement.
According to a press statement, signed by Sarah Birungi, the assistant commissioner public and corporate affairs, URA has admitted that the said money equivalent to 1% of the amount won was given as a reward through the office of the Attorney General.
“Following Uganda’s victory, government through the office of the Attorney General recommended that the multi-disciplinary and multi sectoral team of officials that had participated in a core, non-core and support staff capacity be commended and appreciated by a Presidential Handshake totaling UGX6bn.” Part of the statement reads.
Among the beneficiaries of the so called handshake 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.
URA claims that it is a standard international best practice for employees to receive bonus payments/ or honoraria for exemplary performance in both the public and the private sector.
They add that Ugandan Constitution allows the president to reward outstanding performers as he has always done it in other fields like sports.
“For the record the payments went through the necessary approvals as required by the Public Finance Management Act as amended.”
Therefore URA refuted the ongoing allegations on media that payment was illegal saying that that those reports are wrong, and that even the alleged list of the beneficiaries is inaccurate.