Wednesday August 6 2014

Causing financial loss to govt, taxpayers must be punished

The Sunday Monitor of August 3, run a story in which a government minister in disregard of the pertaining procedures cancelled a railway contract. Mr John Byabagambi the junior Minister of state for Works and Transport is said to have ignored a Memorandum of Understanding between the government of Uganda and China civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) regarding the upgrade of eastern railway line.
The minister is said to have preferred to award the contract to China Harbour Engineering Corporation (CHEC). The above act forced CCECC to take government to court where government lost the case and the taxpayer will bear the brunt of footing the legal costs.
What is puzzling is that in doing all this, the minister did not heed the informed advice of the Solicitor General and most importantly the Attorney General who is mandated by the Constitution to give legal advice to the government. It is therefore baffling why the minister ignored this advice.
It is further reported that the minister went ahead and engaged a private law firm for legal advice on the same matter. It is not clear whether the cost of engaging the said firm was met by the minister personally or by the Ministry of Works and Transport. If the firm is to be paid by the taxpayers’ money, then one wonders the impunity with which the minister acts to cause the government unwarranted financial expenses. In my view such acts of impunity by government officials ought to be seriously punished and the officials who cause us such unnecessary losses must be made to pay.
Andrew Katurubuki,