Thursday March 15 2018

Queries as AG clears Kasaija, Muhakanizi on Shs700b loan

Finance minister Matia Kasaija

Finance minister Matia Kasaija 


Kampala- A special audit by the Auditor General, Mr John Muwanga, has cleared Finance minister Matia Kasaija and Secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi over the alleged abuse of a $200m (about Shs700b) loan from the Trade and Finance Bank (PTA).
Although the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) leadership and some members have ridiculed the report findings as “not surprising”, the AG insists that the money was correctly utilised.

The Auditor General’s report to Parliament indicates that the Ministry of Works, Rural Electrification Agency (REA) and National Medical Stores (NMS) all got their share from the $200m facility, allaying fears by MPs that the money could have been misappropriated.

Although the report says the money was received by the beneficiaries, new evidence shows that Mr Kasaija in the Supplementary Schedule No.1 of 2017/18, presented a request for Shs41b to meet the funding deficit for the purchase of essential medicines even after he claimed that the same money was considered as part of the Shs68 billion.

“This was of course planned and we are not surprised...I can imagine the pressure the Auditor General went through,” Mr Gerald Karuhanga [Ntungamo Municipality] told Daily Monitor yesterday.

“From the start, Mr Muhakanizi and Kasaija wanted to determine who should investigate them, but for us as PAC we exposed the scandal and Ugandans know the truth. I am very sure one day those people will be asked to account.”
While it was PAC that named Mr Kasaija and Mr Muhakanizi in the loan saga, the minister, who first sounded upbeat, when called last evening sounded combative and instead blamed his woes on Daily Monitor’s coverage of the scandal.
Mr Kasaija faulted this newspaper for writing ‘negative’ PTA loan stories which he said cast him in bad light, especially in the eyes of European [donors].

Mr Muwanga yesterday defended his report as, “a factual findings report” which details the issues as they existed and that “it cannot create information which is nonexistent”.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga last month ordered Mr Muwanga to conduct a forensic audit on the utilisation of the Shs700b loan to inform Parliament’s debate on recommendations by PAC that Mr Muhakanizi be sacked and Mr Kasaija censured over their role in the acquiring and utilisation of the loan.

Parliament will today debate both the PAC and AG’s report to come up with a resolution on the fate of the two principals at Finance Ministry.


Earlier findings. The PAC committee had faulted Mr Kasaija on grounds of obtaining money by false pretence while Mr Muhakanizi was blamed for superintending over gross diversion of public funds. Both accused the MPs of witch-hunt.
Some beneficiaries: The AG’s report stated that Works Ministry received Shs83b for the purchase of road construction equipment from M/S Sumitomo Corporation, REA received $4m while NMS got $42m for the purchase of essential supplies.