CAA officials face Parliament over Shs5b debt collection fees
Posted Tuesday, February 19 2013 at 02:00
The aviation authorities were questioned why they hired a debt collector yet the government had already committed itself to paying the money.
Parliament yesterday opened investigations into the loss of Shs5.4 billion to a group of city lawyers controversially contracted by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to collect a debt the government accepted to pay. It has also emerged that fuel at CAA is being allocated to individuals for weddings, introductions among other things.
The Committee on Commissions Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) heard that there were also several cases where vehicles not owned by CAA were being fuelled by CAA in a case of abuse of public funds.
While the CAA director of finance, Ms Samalie Kisekka, who was appearing before the committee with the managing director, Mr Rama Makuza, tried to defend the authority, the Auditor General’s findings revealed that the frequency at which individual cars were being refueled was alarming, with some vehicles lifting as much as 140 litres a day.
On the payment, the committee found that Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA) was paid Shs.5.4 billion by CAA as debt collection fees. Quoting from the Auditor General’s 2010/2011 report, the committee chairperson, Mr Patrick Amuriat Oboi, (FDC, Kumi) told CAA officials that the expenditure was unnecessary and could have been avoided since the government had committed itself to pay the money.
In his report to Parliament, the Auditor General said: “Once government commits itself to pay a government agency, there should be no need to appoint a debt collector.” Mr Makuza apologised. But the lawmakers rejected his explanation after it emerged that he illegally revised the contract terms with KAA from 2.5 per cent to 10 per cent.
Oyam North MP Crispus Ayena said the deal was reportedly not undertaken in accordance with the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDA) regulations. He said the variation contravened Regulation 262 of PPDA, which says any review must not exceed 15 per cent of the original contract price.
Mr Oboi said the Ministry of Finance and KAA officials would be summoned before the committee to explain what happened.