End rackets in BoU, Finance ministry

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, has written to the Uganda Mission in Beijing, China, to return some $583,200 about Shs2b that was allegedly erroneously sent as part of a request to support Ugandan students affected by the lockdown on Wuhan in Hubei Province of China that was hitherto, the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The request to send financial support to Ugandan students in Wuhan was mooted by the Ministry of Education and was supported by Cabinet. However, what is shocking is that some technocrats in Education and Finance ministries, Bank of Uganda, and the Uganda Mission in China, had sinister motives and were instead trying to profit from the plight of the students.

According to a letter written by the Secretary to the Treasury to the accounting officer of the Uganda Embassy in Beijing, $600,000 (Shs2.2b) was sent from Bank of Uganda as support to the Ugandan students in China. However, only $61,800 had been approved, and the excess funds should, therefore, be return to Uganda. If this is not collusion of an intricate syndicate meant to rip-off the country, then where did Finance ministry get their figures from? Who is responsible for such controls, and what is the likelihood that this has not been happening before?

It should be noted that the discrepancy in figures only came to light after a complaint was raised by one of the students in Wuhan regarding the amounts that some of them had received vis-a-vis what had been circulating in the media.

This is not the first time that the Ministry of Finance has written to foreign missions asking that money be returned. It is also not the first time that Bank of Uganda has been embroiled in controversy regarding transfer of funds with unsupported paperwork. It is also not the first time that rackets within the Bank of Uganda and Finance ministry have succeeded in defrauding the country of money.

The 2012 Auditor General’s Report to Parliament regarding the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) scandal in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), where billions of shillings were stolen, revealed how syndicates operate. It was obvious, according to report, that PRDP monies were stolen when technocrats in the Ministry of Finance, connived with Bank of Uganda and OPM officials. There is a racket and or syndicate in the Finance ministry and Bank of Uganda that continues to collude with some willing MDAs to rip-off the government. In most of these cases, there are two constants – Ministry of Finance and Bank of Uganda.

Uganda Vs Lwamafa Jimmy and 2 Others (2015) case. Justice Lawrence Gidudu summarised it well when he said, “This syndicate was crafted in the Ministry of Public Service modified in the Ministry of Finance, smoothened in Bank of Uganda and perfected in Cairo Bank”.

Last year, the Bank of Uganda was embroiled in a Shs90b over print of Uganda currency, again that only came to light after a sting operation by the State House Anti-Corruption Unit. It is not clear what happened to this money, or the officers who were responsible for the over print. There is need to rein in this sort of behaviour.

We strongly believe the excess Shs2b that was sent to China was not a mistake, it was a deliberate move by some officials in the Education ministry and their counterparts in Finance ministry and Bank of Uganda to perfect what has been going on for a while. The only oversight and reason this fell through was because not everybody involved in the transaction had been updated on how the spoils of war would be shared and, again Keith Muhakanizi burst the bubble.

Cissy Kagaba,

Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda

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