National
OPM fraud: More donors cut aid
Publish Date: Nov 02, 2012
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By Ann Mugisa and Raymond Baguma

Denmark has joined the UK and Ireland in suspending development aid to Uganda following the Auditor General's findings of alleged theft of money in the Office of the Prime Minister.

The Royal Danish Embassy in Kampala announced the suspension of funding in a statement issued Thursday. This followed a meeting on Monday this week between the Denmark's ambassador Dan E. Frederiksen together with other development partners and the Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi as well as Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka.

"A candid and detailed discussion took place and a written reply to the issues raised is now expected from the Prime Minster. Pending receipt of a written reaction and satisfactory action by the Government of Uganda direct Danish disbursements to the Government of Uganda has been suspended," the statement said.

It added, though, that "support to Partners that are working to promote good governance, human rights and combat corruption, such as the Uganda Human Rights Commission, the IGG and the courts, will continue."

The Irish, Swedish, Norwegian, and British envoys in Kampala as well as the World Bank and European Union representatives also attended the meeting that focused on the Auditor General's report, which exposed gross theft of money meant for reconstruction of northern Uganda.
 
 According to the Auditor General report on financial impropriety in the OPM, Denmark had committed to contribute sh2billion in the PRDP basket account for northern Uganda this year.

The statement quoted the Danish ambassador as saying: "I have made Denmark's position very clear and we have received firm commitments from the Government of Uganda to take action on all the issues we have raised. We now need to see written confirmation of the commitments made at these meetings with indications of concrete actions taken."

"We also need assurances that on-going and additional investigations, not least in the Office of the Prime Minister, are allowed to happen unhindered," he added.

The UK's Guardian newspaper reported that the UK Department for International Development (DFID) has withheld £4m in support over the matter.  Also, although no British money was stolen, DFID has set up an independent audit to investigate the alleged fraud.

The Irish government was the first to freeze £3.2million of aid towards the Peace Recovery and Development Programme (PRDP) to which Ireland was contributing support alongside Norway, Denmark and Sweden.  

Government has already interdicted 16 senior officials in the Office of the Prime Minister implicated in the scam. The officials include principal accountant Geoffrey Kazinda.

 

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