Saturday November 24 2012

Bigirimana throws out British staff



The Office of the Prime Minister has responded to the United Kingdom’s freezing of Shs111 billion in direct financial aid by “laying off” two DfID-seconded technical officials.

Mr Pius Bigirimana, the Permanent Secretary in the OPM, told the Saturday Monitor the two, a one Ms Davies and Martin Wabwire, though technically competent, were now surplus to requirement.

“When the British government cut the aid meant for certain programmes being implemented by the Office of the Prime Minister with technical input of the two, it rendered the two redundant,” said Mr Bigirimana.
He, however, added that the two were good and technically-competent and would, therefore, be recalled should the UK’s Uganda aid tap be turned on as the government engages the donors to unfreeze aid.

President Museveni has scoffed at calls for Mr Bigirimana’s suspension, saying those baying for Mr Bigirimana’s blood want to “blackmail” a whistle-blower. Mr Museveni, however, suspended Mr Jimmy Lwamafa, the Public Service permanent secretary, after the Daily Monitor broke the story about the loss of Shs63 billion to ghost pensioners. Mr Lwamafa and the interdicted OPM Principal Accountant, Mr Geoffrey Kazinda, are scheduled to appear together before Parliament to answer queries about each’s knowledge or possible role in the scam.

Last week, the UK froze direct financial aid to Uganda following revelations by the Auditor General that up to Shs50 billion meant for Peace and Recovery Development Programmes in northeast Uganda was not put to use for the purpose it was meant for.

As Norway, Sweden and Denmark, however, froze their financial assistance to Uganda, Korea, France and the Netherlands this week collectively committed close to Shs140 billion to support energy, sanitation and irrigation programmes in various parts of the country.

Up to 25 per cent of Uganda’s $4.5 billion for this financial year’s Budget is donor-funded.
Already, there have been concerns that other government projects shall be affected should other development partners freeze aid.

Mr Fred Omach, the state minister for finance (general duties), this week said cash releases to settle some doctors’ salary enhancement and for the recruitment of 6,000 health workers would be affected.
Even President Museveni, who often claims Uganda does not need foreign aid, last week begged Partners for Democracy and Development, a coalition of donors, to give the country support.