Golden hand shake money beneficiaries explain to the Committee of Commission

Four beneficiaries of the Shillings 6 billion presidential handshake from Uganda Revenue Authority-URA have explained their roles in the Heritage Oil and Gas arbitration case.

They are Mathew Mugabi, the former URA Litigation Manager, Samuel Kahima, the former acting Manager Rulings and Interpretations, Moses Kibumba, the former Chief Assessor and former Natural Resource Supervisor Annet Bazalilaki.

The four appeared on Monday afternoon before the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises chaired by Bugweri County MP, Abdu Katuntu, which is investigating the oil cash bonuses.

Evidence before the committee shows that Mathew Mugabi and Samuel Kahima pocketed Shillings 121 million each while Moses Kibumba and Anent Bazalilaki received Shillings 73 million and Shillings 56 million respectively.

During the meeting, the Committee Chairperson Abdu Katuntu tasked tasked the four officials to explain the extraordinary role they played in the oil arbitration case to warrant a special reward from the president.

Mugabi, who traveled to London more than five times, said his role was to provide background information on how they argued the case in the Arbitration Tribunal and High Court of Uganda.

Busiro East MP, Medard Ssegona asked Mugabi the number of witnesses URA presented for the case. Mugabi said he couldn’t remember the exact number, but only said they were more than two witnesses.

His response drew angry reactions from Ssegona and Katuntu who wondered how URA officials expect the committee to believe their claims to have played an extraordinary role.

Samuel Kahima, the former URA Acting Manager Rulings and Interpretations, said he handled objections to the case since it was leaning toward enforcement measures.

Kahima also said he was the only member of the team who had practiced under the income tax decree and was there to support the arbitration team by conceptualizing the matter.

He however, agreed with the Katuntu that even with this, he would ordinarily be performing his job. Moses Kibumba, the former URA Chief Assessor sent the probe Committee into laughter when he said that the Heritage Oil and Gas Company case was extraordinary since it generated abnormal heat.

Anent Bazairaki, the former URA Natural Resources Supervisor said her role in the Oil arbitration case was to conduct research on the matter from the internet. The probe committee resumes on Wednesday with submissions from other beneficiaries from the presidential handshake from URA.

At least 42 government officials benefited from the presidential handshake for their role on the arbitration. The tax dispute arose after Heritage sold its interests in Uganda’s oil to Tullow Oil.

 

 

 

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MPs whine over the functionality of their Ipads

Parliament skipped some items lined up for discussion on Wednesday following complaints by legislators on their Ipads.

Parliament was expected to discuss and adopt findings of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the Auditor General’s report on the 2014/2015 financial year Health sector Budget.

No sooner had the PAC Chairperson Angeline Osegge started presenting the report, than the Bwamba County MP, Richard Gafabusa rose on a matter of procedure.

Gafabusa told the house chaired by the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga that he couldn’t follow the report, since it wasn’t available on his Ipad.

He was supported by Joseph Ssewungu, the Kalungu West MP who pleaded with the speaker to ensure the Ipads are worked on to improve their efficiency.

William Nzonghu, the Busongora North MP, said his Ipad has been dysfunctional for the last two months.

The Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga rejected the proposal to distribute hard copies to the legislator, saying they ditched them because of the costs involved.

She directed the Clerk to Parliament, Jane Kibirige to investigate the functionality of the Ipads and internet in the house and file a report by Thursday.

Parliament forked out Shillings 3.6 million to procure Ipads for each of the 427 legislators in the tenth parliament. The speaker introduced the use of Ipads in the house during the Ninth parliament hoping to cut down on stationary costs.

However, a year after the introduction of the Ipads, the printing, stationary and binding budget of parliament shot from Shillings 383 million to a whopping Shillings 1.5 billion.

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Government plans to increase medics’ lunch allowances

Parliament’s budget committee has recommended an increase in the monthly lunch allowance for medical workers across the country. The legislators are suggesting an allowance of 288,000 Shillings for nurses, doctors and other health workers bringing the lunch allocation to 12,000 Shillings per day, per person.

Government currently allocates a monthly allowance of 66,000 Shillings and 44,000 Shillings for doctors and nurses respectively. But Amos, Lugoloobi, the chairman of the budget committee argues that the allocation is insufficient.  He says that the rate which was determined in 1996 has not been revised over the last 20 years despite an increase in the cost of living.

Kasambya County MP Gaffa Mbwatekamwa says that a revision in the lunch allowance will improve the welfare of medical workers who he said use their little pay on accommodation, utilities and transport to work. There are 43,777 health workers on government payroll.

The recommendation is carried in the committee report on the national budget framework paper for the financial year 2017/2018.

Meanwhile, the budget committee also recommends another additional funding amounting to 645 billion Shillings towards the health sector. The money is to cater for among others, Hepatitis B vaccination, procurement of adequate suppliers of ARVs under the National Medical Stores (NMS), bringing staffing levels to at 72 percent in general hospital and others.

On construction and upgrading of health facilities, the budget committee recommends the provision of 164 billion Shillings required for upgrading of Health Centre IIIs to Health Centre IVs in 29 counties and an additional 247 billion Shillings for the construction of 93 Health Centre IIIs in sub-counties where no government facility exists today.

Santa Alum, the Oyam Woman MP told parliament how a Health Centre III in her constituency lacks clean water.

MPs also recommended another 49 billion to be allocated to the health ministry to carry out vaccination, testing and treatment of Hepatitis B in 20 districts that are at high risk.
Parliament resumes on Wednesday to debate the committee report before adopting it.

 

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Parliamentarians with pending election petitions demand for vehicles cash

37 members of parliament with pending election petitions in the Court of Appeal are pushing for the release of their vehicle cash. The MPs have petitioned the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga demanding the release of their money. Each MP in the 10th parliament is entitled to Shillings 150 million for the purchase of a vehicle to facilitate their movement in the constituency. On October 11, 2016, parliament disbursed Shillings 43.2 billion to the law makers to procure vehicles.

Each MP received Shillings 100 million on their personal bank accounts. Earlier on, the Parliamentary Commission resolved not to disburse money to all legislators with election petitions until they are cleared by court to avoid cases where parliament is forced to release more cash once such a legislator is kicked out by court and replaced by another person. However, in their January 12, 2017 petition to the speaker, the petitioners demand for the release of their vehicle cash.

“We the under signed members of the 10th Parliament of Uganda, hereby log in a petition to your attention and the entire Parliamentary Commission over a matter of failure to transfer funds for purchase of vehicles as duly assigned”, reads the petition seen by URN. Adding that, “It’s also clear that half of the Members of Parliament who still have pending court appeals have been paid.”

They also claim that ex officials who are already provided for by their sector dockets and do not represent any constituency have been paid the vehicle money. They question the criteria used to pay out the vehicle cash. “Rt Hon Speaker, it should be noted among members who lost their cases at High Court and now in Court of Appeal; some have been paid whereas others have, the same applies to that won cases at high court and were appealed against. Therefore we are puzzled on the criterion of selection”, they said.

Peter Ogwang, the Usuk County Member of parliament who also doubles as Parliamentary Commissioner, says parliament used different approaches to arrive at, which MP receives the vehicle cash first. “We began with the new MPs following alphabetical order because some of the new MPs were facing transport challenges. The other MPs will also be catered for because the money is available”, Ogwang said.

He also confirmed that some of the MPs facing election petitions have received the vehicle. They asked the Speaker to authorize the transfer of funds meant for purchase of vehicles to their respective accounts so as to enable them acquire the vehicles like any other member of the 10th parliament. “We pray that you resist any attempts by any authority wishing to detract you from effecting these payments as this has direct bearing on the performance of the 10th parliament and precedent for future challenges against any member of parliament,” they said.

Chris Obore, the Director of Communication and Public Relations in Parliament, told URN that the Parliamentary Commission halted the payment following public complaints. “Some few MPs with petitions had earlier received cash as was the case with the previous Parliaments. But their payment elicited complaints forcing the Commission to review the matter. The Commission will examine the petition of unpaid MPs with Court cases and make a decision”, Obore said.

He confirmed that two or three MPs with election petitions have received the vehicle money. Patrick Okabe, the Serere County MP is one of the legislators battling a petition in Soroti High Court for alleged lack of academic papers. “We can’t wait forever for the court cases to be disposed of yet we are still having the mandate of our people who badly need us to serve them. How do they expect us to travel to our constituencies?” he said.

 

 

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No one will derail parliament- Obore

By Patricia Osman

The director of communications and public relations of Parliament Chris Obore says no one will derail parliament form discussing or debating on the issue of 6bn shillings oil bonanza.

His comments follow an interim order by the Constitutional Court stopping MPs, any person or authority from inquiring or investigating the bonus payment of shs 6 billion to senior government officers.

However Mr. Obore says the matter can only be determined by the speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga. Obore says that the matter is of public interest adding that speaker will guide the MPs on the matter.

Meanwhile the Public Accounts Comitte chaired by Ntungamo municipality MP Gerald Karuhanga and Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises committee chaired by Bugweri County legislator Abdul Katuntu have already expressed interest in investigating the case.

Photo: ChimpReports

Legislators contribute 500,000UGx off their salaries for Uganda Cranes

Parliament is contributing over 200 million Shillings in support of the national football team Uganda Cranes, currently preparing for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations final in Gabon.

Each of the 431 legislators is contributing five hundred thousand Shillings (500,000 Shillings) to be deducted from their monthly emoluments.

The agreement came after the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga applauded Uganda Cranes for being voted the National Team of the Year 2016 during the annual Glo Confederation of African Football (CAF) Awards in Abuja, Nigeria on Sunday. Ugandan first choice Goal Keeper Denis Onyango was also voted the Africa Player of the year (Based in Africa) Award.

Kadaga reminded legislators of their pledge towards Uganda Cranes after qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations. The Tournament runs from January 14 to February 5, 2017.

Uganda Cranes qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations last year ending a 39 year long wait for the national team to feature in the continental tournament. The team last featured in 1978 and lost the final to hosts Ghana.

“We had agreed that we contribute 500,000 Shillings each. I will be going to Gabon supported by one of the corporations and I would want to go with their cheque”, Kadaga said before directing the Clerk to Parliament Jane Kibirige to make deductions from MPs’ emoluments so that the team can be supported and encouraged.

The contribution by parliament comes after government’s approval of 2 billion Shillings for the national football team, Cranes.

 

 

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Blue wave managers want 8Bn for damages

Blue Wave Beverages Limited has dragged government and Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) to court for the closure of its operations last month.

In a suit through M/s Web Advocates and Solicitors before the High Court, Civil Division, Blue Wave Beverages Limited states that on November 22, 2016, Mohammed Nsereko, the Chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Committee and Kampala Central MP, ordered the suspension of production of Blue Wave bottled water.

Uganda National Bureau of Standards effected the directive. Nsereko issued the directive after a whistle blower tabled before the committee a carton of bottled Blue Wave water containing particles.

In the suit, Quan Liu, the General Manager Blue Wave Beverages Limited, says he appeared before the committee he wasn’t given an opportunity to see the alleged contaminated products and therefore couldn’t verify if the batch numbers, bottles and products came from their factory.

The company says as chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Committee Nsereko overstepped his mandate to suspend Blue Wave operations, adding that the committee doesn’t have technical capacity to ascertain whether the product they displayed was water and whether it was contaminated.

Blue Wave Beverages Limited also states that on November 21, 2016, a day before its managers appeared before the committee, UNBS had issued the company a compliant report. Blue Wave is seeking Shillings 8 billion in damages as a result of the loss of goodwill and public confidence in their products.

To that effect, Court has summoned the Attorney General and UNBS to file their defense on December 19, 2016.

 

 

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Speaker,MPs not amused about unannounced ministerial visits to their constituencies

Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga together with a section of legislators have today attacked ministers who visit their constituencies without consent and demobilise their voters.

During the afternoon plenary session, Kadaga and other legislators expressed anger over what they called continued ministerial visits to their constituencies without their knowledge.

In her communication to parliament, Kadaga gave an example of a number of teams sent out by government to talk to people about climate change in different constituencies without the knowledge of area MPs. She demanded an explanation from the Prime Minister.

Kawempe North MP Latif Ssebagala also expressed concern on the repeated visits by ministers in his constituency without his knowledge. He requested that ministries to write to area MPs whenever the visits are to happen.

Rubaga North MP Moses Kasibante also reported to parliament that part of the activities to which MPs are not being invited have implications on land issues.

Mitooma Woman MP Jovah Kamateeka said that the ministers use MPs’ opponents while in the constituencies.

“They are busy de-campaigning members of parliament on the ground”, said Kamateeka.

Adjumani Woman MP said that MPs form part of government and they are people’s representatives. She said that it would be prudent for them to work as a team, adding that if it is about climate change, MPs have participated highly and therefore ministers should not go in isolation.

General Moses Ali, the first Deputy Prime Minister said it was unfortunate that MPs were not informed when ministers visited their constituencies but ruled out any secret motive.

He explained that it’s the government climate change committee that was going around different constituencies to educate citizens about the changing climate patterns.

Kadaga insisted that government should share information with MPs before visits to constituencies are made.

 

 

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Speaker Kadaga has no kind words for corrupt Chinese firm

Speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga has implored the Inspectorate of Government to investigate cases of Chinese contractors involving in defrauding Uganda.

Kadaga was officiating at the dialogue between the Inspectorate of Government and parliament’s accountability committees. The meeting was held at Kabira Country Club this morning.

Kadaga made reference to recent findings by parliament’s committee on Commissions, State Authorities and Statutory Enterprise’s in which over 50 billion Shillings  was lost of Chinese contractors who had been contracted by the Uganda National Roads Authority.

In one of the findings, 47.7 billion advanced to five contractors for the compensation of persons affected by road construction projects was misused.

The firms include China Railway 18th Group, China Railway No.3 Group, Zhongmei Engineering, China Railway No.5 Group and Chongqing International Construction Company. They were contracted by government to undertake the construction of Musita-Lumino-Busia, Kanoni-Sembabule-Villa, Olwiyo Gulu, Gulu-Acholibur and Acholibur-Musingo roads.

But in one of the interfaces with the committee, it was established that the contractors fixed the money in various banks to earn interest while part of it was invested in personal businesses. They were forced to refund the money.

The same committee has queried a fine of 1.8 billion Shillings paid by UNRA to – Chongqing International Construction (CICO) of China after a delay in securing the Environmental Impact Assessment report as part of the contract for upgrading of Vurra-Arua-Koboko-Oraba road.

Speaker Kadaga said persons involved in such scams need to be prosecuted for stealing tax payer’s money. “We need a follow up, prosecute people taking this money. We have so much money in this country and if there were no corruption, we would not even need donor money”, Kadaga said.

Deputy IGG George Bamugemereire applauded parliament for coming out strong on corruption noting that his office would surely follow up on corruption cases recently exposed by parliament accountability committees.

IGG Irene Mulyagonja said that her office is today going to engage with MPs sitting on accountability committees to see how to close gaps in the laws of accountability.

She said that at the close of their engagement, they would come up with resolutions that will be forwarded and considered by the Tenth Parliament in a bid to fight corruption and mal-administration in the country.

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The Public bids final farewell to Gen Oketta at Parliament

The body of Gen. Julius  Oketa  is lying in state at Parliament for the public to pay their last respects. At parliament the body was  received by the deputy speaker of parliament Jacob Oulanya ,Government chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa ,deputy head of government bushiness in parliament also  1st deputy prime minister Moses Ali and leader of opposition in parliament Winnie Kizza.

Parliament will this afternoon hold a special session    to  pay tribute to the  fallen general.  Oketa represented the UPDF in the 9th parliament and has been deputy coordinator of operation wealth creation. He died of cardiac arrest over the weekend, and will be laid to rest at his ancestral home in Gulu on Wednesday.