Activists criticise government over Shs6b oil cash bonanza

Thursday January 5 2017

President Museveni. A section of Civil Society

President Museveni. A section of Civil Society actors have voiced their displeasure at his decision to pay out part of the Shs6 billion oil tax money to selected government officials in “recognition of their efforts” to recover Capital Gains Tax. 

By Judith Atim

A section of Civil Society actors have voiced their displeasure at the decision by President Museveni to pay out part of the Shs6 billion oil tax money to selected government officials in “recognition of their efforts” to recover Capital Gains Tax.
Mr Julius Mishambi, the director of programmes at the Uganda Debt Network, says the move by the government to go behind citizens and reward a group of individuals is a sign of disrespect to the millions of Ugandan taxpayers.
Citing article 153 and 154 of the Constitution, Mishambi says all public funds must be kept in the consolidated fund and any withdrawal should be done with the authorisation of Parliament or appropriations Act, or supplementary requests in accordance with the law.

“Even with the Public Finance Management Act 2015 in place, the very institutions and individuals who should be custodians of public resources are the ones abusing such resources arbitrarily; it is very sad,” Mukunda said.
On Wednesday, Daily Monitorquoted Finance ministry Spokesperson Jim Mugunga justifying the pay out to 42 government officials saying the Shs6 billion that was shared is less than the one per cent of the $434 million (Shs 1.13 trillion) the country received after it sued Heritage Oil Company for failure to pay capital gains tax in 2011.
Mr Mugunga argued that the money paid out in 2015 had been taxed.
However, Mishambi argues that the financial recognition of the efforts by these government officials was a dubious act by the government, which in essence shows how much they take Ugandans for granted.

“What these public servants did (recovering the capital gains tax) was in the course of their duty, they are already being facilitated to execute their roles and responsibilities under their respective mandates, so paying them for doing their job makes the whole matter mischievous, and that is our point of contention,” Mishambi added.
He says as members of the Civil Society, they are launching a campaign dubbed “return our money” during which they expect to mobilise at least one million Ugandans to match before the Ministry of finance headquarters, Kampala Capital City Authority, and Uganda Revenue Authority head offices “to work towards recovery of these and other public funds that are being stolen with impunity”.

Some of the officials reported to have received part of the Shs6 billion include Ms Doris Akol, the URA Commissioner General, her predecessor Allen Kagina, KCCA executive director Jennifer Musisi, Secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi, former Attorney General Peter Nyombi and his then deputy Fred Ruhindi.
Others are former Ministry of finance Permanent Secretary Chris Kassami (RIP), Solicitor General Francis Atoke and his deputy Christopher Gashirabake.

atimj@ug.nationmedia.com

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