The Minister of Fisheries Ruth Nankabirwa and Former Vice President Specioza Wandera Kazibwe have been accused with then Finance Minister Syda Bbumba of frustrating the 15 billion Presidential Initiative on Market Vendors.
This was before the Public Accounts Committee Chaired by MP Kassiano Wadri that is handling queries about the project that were highlighted in the Auditor General’s report of 2011.
The Auditor General’s report revealed that accountability flaws revolving around payment of non-existent beneficiaries, falsification of accountability and inflation of lists of beneficiaries.
It noted the 662 million shillings that was paid to Kampala United Park yard Cooperative Savinga and Credit Cooperative by the Microfinance support Centre that was headed by Kazibwe was for various market beneficiaries.
Of this money, 149million was paid to Kisenyi vendors which the audit report said is none-existent. The number of market vendors in the new taxi park was also increased from 134 that were previous listed by the joint steering committee to 7000.
Despite the audit report being silent on the three members, the members of the joint steering committee that conceived the concept of the project upon which it was adopted accused the three in line with officials at the Finance ministry and the Micro Support Centre of sidelining them during the implementation stage of the project which they said later resulted into fraud as the mentioned officials rejected lists of the rightful beneficiaries and came up with their own.
It was also noted that in some cases large sums of money were paid to none existent entities.
The Joint Steering Committee consisted of three members including Member of Parliament representing workers Sam Lyomoki as Chairperson of the Committee, Winnie Atwine and Godfrey Kayongo as Presidential Advisor on Markets.
The Presidential Initiative on Market Vendors and Small Business Operations was started in 2010 with intention of creating a revolving fund through which the needy in markets could access loans at no interest.
Atwine Winnie, a member of the steering committee, testified before the committee and said that members who had not been part of the committee tried to interfere with their work and their intention was to steal money by hiding behind their project and as well as distorting their program.
She noted that in particular Former Vice President Kazibwe intimidated her by telling her to be quiet about the matter reminding Atwine that she was more familiar with State House.
She also told PAC that minutes of between the Micro Support Centre and Ministry of Finance were doctored and forged.
Atwine wants and demands that government compensates her for the time wasted and the money she spent on the project that they never saw to its destination since they were thrown out.
Lyomoki told the Public Accounts Committee that his steering committee was under looked by the accused and sidelined and informed them that it was the Resident District Commissioners and Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOS) that were to be used to get the funds to the rightful beneficiaries.
Lymoki said this forced them to abandon the project to the ministers who had hijacked it. They informed the president of their decision.
The Secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi is expected to appear before the committee on Wednesday to answer to queries concerning the market project.