By Vision Reporter
The Under Secretary in the ministry of works, Alex Kakooza has told court that government never incurred any loss due to the payments made for construction works at Speke Resort Munyonyo.
Kakooza, who effected the payments Tuesday told court, presided over by Paul Mugamba that money was paid to Dott services and Spencon companies after completion of the work.
“The two companies were paid for the work done. There was no loss to government,” he testified.
Kakooza is the third witness in a case where three ministers Sam Kutesa, John Nasasira and Mwesigwa Rukutana are charged with causing government a loss of sh14b when they committed it to fund the works.
Witnesses from Dott Services and Spencon have confirmed that they constructed the parking lots a, driveways and a marina at Speke Resort Munyonyo.
Two witnesses Monday cleared the accused ministers. They were then Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary, Julius Onen and the Government chief engineer, Samson Bagonza.
Both Onen and Bagonza said that it was not the duty of the Ministers to commit the Government to the said expenditure and they never did. They said that the meeting referred to as the illegal one in which the Ministers committed the Government was actually an investigative mission done on direction of the Cabinet Sub-Committee and no commitments were made. "It was entirely to brain storm…," Onen said.
The head of Legal services in the Inspectorate of Government, Sydney Asubo, tried in vain to convince the Court to declare Onen a hostile witness. The Judge told Asubo that he cannot cross-examine his own witness, but can only re-examine him after the defence has cross-examined him.
Onen and Bagonza said the Ministers were not the only ones who went to Munyonyo on that investigative mission to ascertain what and how much needed to be done to prepare the place for CHOGM. He said the others were himself, Eng. Bagonza, and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Chris Kassami.
They said that later the team met with Sudhir Ruparelia, the proprietor on Munyonyo and said that the Government expenditure there should be converted to Government equity in a proposed company, Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort Ltd. They said that the ministers never said that Government should institute free works at the hotel.
Onen who testified first said that Munyonyo and Serena Hotels had already been chosen as venues for the major CHOGM activities, prior to the investigative mission.
"What was clear when it was decided that Uganda will host CHOGM was that there would be need for a major investment and that the Government on its own would not be able to do it and therefore there was a need for partnerships. So we assessed all partners to work with because the investment was colossal and this was based on historical experience with CHOGM in developing Countries," Onen said.
He said that the survey was done basing on conditions contained in the CHOGM Secretariat Blue Book. Among the conditions is that there must be more than two access routes to the venue and adequate parking space, all for security reasons. Another condition was that if the venue is at the bank of a river lake or any waterway, there should be an access route.
He testified that the need from construction of the Marina on Lake Victoria at Munyonyo was because what was there was too small to accommodate the recommended water vessels if it were to be used as an escape route.
He said that the notes written by Eng. Bagonza on the Munyonyo mission were used later as an aide memoire to refresh the memory of what took place there and were never binding. He said that those who went to Munyonyo made it clear that the technical people should do further consultations on what should be done before it was approved by Government.
He said that a lot of brainstorming was done before a memorandum of understanding was drawn by Government. He added that it incorrect to say that the Ministers' presence at Munyonyo on December 17, 2005 was irregular.
According to Eng. Bagonza, whatever was done at the Munyonyo mission was supposed to be subjected to the approval process and it was done. He also testified that at the end of the works, he inspected and found that everything had been done according to plan and design. He said that as a result, the Government had value for money.
Hearing of the case continues tomorrow Wednesday.