AG officials questioned over Shs1t loans
Posted Tuesday, October 1 2013 at 01:00
A joint committee of Parliament yesterday questioned officials from the Attorney General’s office after it emerged that they had allowed the Ministry of Finance to sign loan agreements without Parliament’s approval.
Following the Auditor General’s report ending June 2012, indicating that 13 loan agreements amounting to Shs1.3 trillion were signed without Parliament’s approval, the Speaker of Parliament set up the joint committee to probe how the loans were negotiated and signed.
However, Mr Christopher Gashirabake, the Director Legal and Advisory Services in the Office of the Attorney General, told the MPs they had advised the Ministry of Finance to follow legal procedures. “We want evidence from the Auditor General that we gave legal opinion on any borrowing by government not okayed by Parliament. I am not aware that any officer can give a legal opinion on a borrowing without parliamentary approval,” Mr Gashirabake explained.
But in a letter dated September 25, one Ms Kabiije, on behalf of the Solicitor General, wrote to the Secretary to Treasury, Mr Keith Muhakanizi, arguing that the approval of Parliament is administrative and does not in any way bind government. “Government can only be bound after all the legal requirements (including authority of Parliament) are fulfilled and the donors are mindful of this,” the letter read in part.
Mr Francis Atoke, the Solicitor General said the letter outlined the general procedures provided for in most lending institutions to give grants for loans. He said the spirit of the letter maintained that the approval of Parliament is a conditional precedent for a loan.
Ms Keto Nyapendi, the Assistant Auditor General said that the approval of loans rests with Parliament and the Executive takes on after the approval, which was not followed and is unconstitutional. Mr Stephen Mukitale (MP Buliisa County) said government losees money due to such loopholes. “We are looking at total disregard of Parliament. There is lack of transparency and hiding information from Parliament,” he said.