Government doubles pay for URA board members

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija

Kampala- The government has doubled the pay for the directors at Uganda Revenue Authority, Sunday Monitor has learnt.

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija approved the pay rise for the new URA board led by Mr Simon Kagugube.
The URA boss Doris Akol would later request for Shs120m to cater for the new payment structure. Sunday Monitor understands that the money was part of the Shs117.8b supplementary request to Ministry of Finance that included among other things, the disputed Shs6b “presidential handshake” to 42 top government officials.

For instance, the chairman’s retainer was doubled from Shs2m to Shs4 million and Shs3.5 million for each of the other four board members from Shs1.5 million.

The monthly retainer is separate from allowances that each board member commands at every seating. Other members of the board include Ms Akol as an executive member, Secretary to Treasury Keith Muhakanizi, Ministry of Trade Permanent Secretary Ambassador Julius Onen, and three members from the private sector.

The supplementary request is contained in Ms Akol’s letter dated August 15, 2016 to Mr Kasaija.

“Increment for monthly retainer fees for the directors was not provided for in the budget for URA for this financial year 2016/2017 and therefore this requires additional funding of Shs120m,” the letter reads in part.

She further indicated that based on the new rates for monthly retainer fees, URA was not in position to pay the monthly retainers for the board directors with effect from last December if the supplementary budget is not approved.

Another expenditure item for the Shs117b was the Shs6b “presidential handshake in appreciation of the 42 officials from offices of the Attorney General, Solicitor General, ministries of Finance and Energy, and Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) for their participation in the successful litigation against two oil companies—UK based Heritage oil and its Anglo-Irish partner Tullow Oil Plc—which brought home about Shs2.4 trillion ($700m).

Although the two supplementary requests to Parliament contain only Shs6b, which according to MPs was “disguised” as payment of salary arrears for non-teaching staff, Finance ministry spokesperson Jim Mugungu told this newspaper that the URA’s supplementary budget was “duly processed and authorisation given within the mandate of the ministry.”

Although ministry of Finance cleared the supplementary to URA, the expenditures are subject to parliamentary approval.

Although Parliament had cut the budget for URA by Shs700m, Ms Akol in the letter to Mr Kasaija said this was money for travelling abroad and requested it to be restored “so that URA can continue to participate in external engagements”.

When contacted on the matter, the URA assistant commissioner Public and Corporate Affairs, Ms Sarah Banage said: “How do you expect me to discuss our internal matters with you? I don’t know what you are talking about and even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you anything. Please find another person to call.”

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