Ugandans dissatisfied with COSASE

By Edwin Muhumuza

Debate on the COSASE report starts this Tuesday (26 February) on the floor of parliament amid high expectations that maybe officials implicated by the probe will be brought to book. What the public is demanding for already are the heads of the culprits.

When it was finally completed and read to the house a section of the public said it had promised too much but only to deliver too little.

While appearing on the Capital Gang Radio Show, Chairperson Abdu Katuntu expressed disgust that members of the public did not appreciate the role of other state institutions. This was in response to claims that his report was toothless and that culprits would walk away free as had been noted in other previous parliamentary reports especially the oil handshake report.

…‘a parliamentary committee report goes to the house where it may be adopted, dismissed or amended. When you have government institutions, they work in accordance with the law. Why we talk about the rule of law is to have different institutions perform different roles. Do not expect a parliament of a republic or a parliament of any country to start having the powers to prosecute or arrest. What will the Judiciary do, Katuntu argued!’

In 2017, Ugandans were angry that 36 government officials shared Shs.6 billion oil bonus code-named the “golden presidential handshake” by officials from the Justice ministry, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), Ministry of Finance among others. It was this same committee that probed the saga and in public view nothing has been done about the officials. This was one of the issues that Katuntu had to explain in recent weeks amid intense criticism from sections within his FDC party including his successor MP Mubarak Munyagwa for what they said was incompetence during his two and a half tenure as COSASE Chairman.

Now another major report is due for debate by public representatives and the question being asked is what will the discussion help if nothing may be done to those the report seems to indict?

Katuntu says, ‘our focus was in the actions more than individuals because at the end of the day there are state agencies that should be able to take up the individuals. What we did was to say, look here, actually, we used two words deliberately, the officers and officials who participated in this process should take full and personal responsibility. That covers their actions but we imagine that other state agencies now go and look at exactly who handled this process’.

For over two months, Bank Of Uganda (BOU), officials led by the governor Tumusiime Mutebile appeared before the committee chaired by the Bugweri County MP to answer to queries raised by the auditor general’s confidential special audit report which revealed weaknesses in the management of Central Bank and questioned the Governor and his team for the hitches in the closure of at least seven commercial banks.

The sale of Crane Bank, however seemed to have opened a can of worms after the proprietor businessman Sudhir Ruparelia accused Bank of Uganda of being unfair. Crane Bank was a commercial bank licensed and supervised by the Bank of Uganda, the national banking regulator with total assets‎ amounting to approximately ‎UGX 1.81 trillion employing over 600 staff.

This was a much bigger financial entity compared to the other defunct banks and certainly had to attract immense public attention including the media. In his new report to Parliament, the Auditor General, Mr John Muwanga, queried BoU officials on the flaws in the closure of Teefe Bank (1993), International Credit Bank Ltd (1998), Greenland Bank (1999), The Co-operative Bank (1999), National Bank of Commerce (2012), Global Trust Bank (2014) and the sale of Crane Bank Ltd (CBL) to dfcu (2016)

Most Ugandans are aware that the closure of Crane Bank by Bank of Uganda was illegal, what remains to be seen is what happens to the culprits that were engaged in this illegality and whether other agencies such as the Inspectorate of Government, the ministry of Finance, Criminal Investigations Department of Police will bite.

Uganda’s Parliamentary committee scrutiny for the defunct banks kick starts

The parliamentary committee on commissions, statutory authorities and state enterprises has today started scrutinizing  the closure of the  defunct banks by questioning the criteria which was used to close Teefe bank.

The committee chaired by bugweri county mp Abdul katuntu quizzed the officials of the central bank headed by the governor Tumusime Mutebile on how they could close this bank without knowing its liability and assets.

The auditor general in his report noted that some of the documentation of Teefe trust bank where denied to his office. The committee now discovers that this bank was closed without an inventory report, However bank of Uganda’s  deputy governor Louis Kasekende in response said that the law by then did not require them to fill an inventory
report.

“ The nature of documents required at that time did not include the inventory so we don’t have that inventory as of now.’’ `It is true that the Financial Institution statute specifically provides for it, but any institution that is acting prudently if you’re taking over a bank, you can’t move in an institution take it over without documenting what you’re taking over, Katuntu replied

The meeting has now been adjourned to Thursday this week to allow BOU reorganize itself and Provide to the committee the list of assets and liabilities that were taken over by the central bank at the time of dissolving the bank.

A special audit on the closure of Teefe Trust Bank and six others commercial banks by the central bank  was ordered  by the Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) in November 2017.

The  committee ordered for  the  auditor after  discovering  that Bank of Uganda  had not  provided the liquidation agent and period for Teefe Trust Bank since it was closed 25 years ago, despite the BOU liquidating  the assets of the bank.

Teefe trust bank was closed in 1993, by the central bank as it was deemed bankrupt. The  special audit report of the Auditor General queried the mistakes  in the closure of Teefe Bank , International Credit Bank Ltd Greenland Bank ,  Co-operative Bank , National Bank of Commerce ), Global Trust Bank (2014) and recently Crane Bank Ltd.

The auditor also observed that there were no guidelines in place to guide the identification of the purchases of the defunct banks.

PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE DIVIDED ON DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE

By Edwin Muhumuza

Former Leader of opposition in Parliament and MP Agago North Ogenga Latigo says the committee on rules, privileges and discipline cannot investigate the actions of legislators because it illegal.

The move by the speaker to direct the committee to investigate the conduct of legislators opposed to lifting the presidential age limit from the constitution has been faulted by former leader of opposition Ogenga Latigo. He says conditions under which it was instituted are wrong since the speaker abandoned the house.

This following the nasty scenes that rocked the house last week in which Special Forces raided parliament to evict members of parliament on the directive of the speaker who had instructed the Sergeant At Arms to take action.

However in their first sitting,the parliamentary committee on rules, privileges and discipline is divided on how to investigate the conduct of legislators who sang the national anthem in protest of plans to lift the presidential age limit from the constitution after the speaker had suspended 25 of them.

Members submissions were laced with  political undertones of witch hunt based on party lines. The chairman, Hon Kenneth Obote Oboth cationed members to put political differences aside to investigate an incident that has cast the speaker Rt.Hon.Rebecca Kadaga in wrong light and even parliament.

He reiterated that it was not time to go deep into the technicalities of the matter at this stage noting that they would go ahead to come up with a list of legislators to face disciplinary action based on CCTV footage of that day with focus on how members behaved .