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World Bank to ‘review’ aid to Uganda over abuse of funds

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Pupils in Namutumba District conduct their classes under a tree recently.

Pupils in Namutumba District conduct their classes under a tree recently. Even as services such as this remain poor, donors have tightened the financial tap over high levels of corruption in the country. PHOTO BY willis omith. 

By RICHARD WANAMBWA

Posted  Thursday, November 15   2012 at  02:00

In Summary

The development comes amid suspension of aid by several European donors who cite loose financial control systems here.

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KAMPALA

The World Bank Group last evening said it is also reviewing its development assistance to Uganda in response to reports of misuse of funds and corruption in Uganda.

“In light of these recent events, the World Bank Group is reviewing its development assistance to Uganda while also strengthening its own measures to ensure that its funds are used for their intended purposes. The World Bank Group is concerned about recent allegations of misuse of public funds in Uganda and is calling for remedial action,” the bank said in a statement.

The statement, which comes weeks after several European donor nations suspended aid to Uganda, further said the recent allegations indicate that the “overall fiduciary environment in Uganda needs to be strengthened to ensure better management of public resources.”

Still in
The World Bank, however, said it will continue to work with the government of Uganda and other development partners to help the country deliver on its national policy of “zero” tolerance for corruption. “The World Bank Group condemns all acts of corruption for depriving countries of the means to achieve better development outcomes,” it noted.
This news paper could not ascertain exactly what was meant by ‘reviewing development assistance’ as efforts to get a comment from the World Bank office in Uganda were unsuccessful.

Deputy Secretary to the Treasury/Under Secretary Ministry of Finance, Keith Muhakanizi told this paper yesterday that he had not received the statement, but the Ministry of Finance and the Treasury were addressing the large-scale fraud and corruption detected in public offices like Office of the Prime Minister and in the pension sector.

“We are taking a number of remedial measures in pension and OPM. We are working with agencies like you the media and other authorities, but in both cases, we have acted on our own people in finance who are implicated and therefore, we are addressing those concerns” Mr Muhakanizi said.

Britain, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark have all suspended aid to Uganda over the reported fraud in the OPM where billions of shillings meant for northern Uganda post-war reconstruction and for Karamoja sub-region development are feared to have been stolen.

The UK’s Department for International Development has said: “We take these allegations extremely seriously and have already suspended UK aid to the Office of the Ugandan Prime Minister. Britain also set up an independent audit to investigate alleged fraud.

UK has already provided £14.2 million in general budget support to Uganda this year, aid that goes directly to the Ugandan government. On top of that, Britain gives £4 million to the prime minister’s office every year, and it is that aid that has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

Meanwhile, Danish Minister for Development Cooperation Christian Friis Bach said the decision covers all of Denmark’s direct aid to the Ugandan government. Denmark has been funding assistance to Uganda’s judicial sector, the Human Rights Commission, Inspectorate of Government, among others.

rwanambwa@ug.nationmedia.com