By Cyprian Musoke and Joyce Namutebi
Parliament last week adopted a report, which recommends punishment of several officials in the Office of the Prime Minister, the finance ministry and Bank of Uganda for the over sh50b scam in Office of Prime Minister (OPM).
The MPs exonerated the premier, Amama Mbabazi, on any wrongdoing, but pinned the accounting officer, Pius Bigirimana, former principal accountant, Geoffrey Kazinda, several staff of OPM and Bank of Uganda over various anomalies.
Parliament rejected a minority report by Joseph Ssewungu (Kalungu West) pinning Mbabazi. Although Bigirimana had the mandate to buy cars for the premier, it should not have come from project funds. “We are not saying he should be arrested, but be held responsible.”
Before the vote was taken on Ssewungu’s recommendations, Mbabazi explained that his name and title did not feature anywhere in the special audit report of the Auditor General.
He said the only reason why he had appeared before PAC was when the question of the vehicle for the Prime Minister had come up.
Ssewungu tabled his minority report in which he asked Parliament to hold Mbabazi culpable for his role in the abuse of PRDP money through the purchase of vehicles for ministers at OPM, including his official Mercedes Benz.
The report also said Mbabazi interfered in the transfer of Geoffrey Kazinda, whom the main PAC reports wants investigated for causing financial loss to the taxpayer.
The MP wanted Mbabazi to be held responsible for failure in political supervision.
MPs voted on Ssewungu’s recommendations, all of which were lost.
MPs also differed on a recommendation whether the Office of Prime Minister should be dismantled with each ministry breaking off to another parent ministry, but Mbabazi proposed an amendment which was adopted.
Parliament also adopted the recommendation that Kazinda be probed for transferring money to personal staff accounts and allegedly receiving the same.
Also expunged from the report were allegations that First Lady and minister for Karamoja travelled eight times to Israel for conferences in one week, with Kassiano Wadri saying their investigations revealed that an officer, Boniface Obbo, requisitioned for sh128m to “facilitate the travel” .
“The committee had to capture the allegation in order to clear the air the media was awash with it.
The officer died before the probe was instituted.
MPs also carried the recommendation that the OPM should restrict itself to monitoring and co-ordinating Government programmes and not implementing activities for which they have no technical and supervisory capacity.
Parliament adopted the recommendation that Kazinda be investigated for forging withdrawals of cash.
Parliament also agreed that senior accountant Yahaya Kasolo and accounts assistant, Lydia Nalwanga be held liable for causing financial loss of sh16.22b and be investigated with a view of prosecution.
The House also agreed that an accounts assistant, Irene Birungi, be referred to the appointing committee for caution.
The House also agreed that Kazinda be investigated for his role in the fraudulent transaction amounting to sh16.22b.
Parliament recommended that the accounting officer be held liable for failure to secure accountability documents, and that circumstances under which documents are alleged to have disappeared be investigated.
The Police were told to investigate whether activities for which funds were advanced were implemented.
Parliament wants staff who claimed to have submitted accountabilities of sh10.9b, but could not provide evidence, to be investigated. The MPs said the staff who claimed to have returned funds to Kazinda be investigated.
Below is the full report of the Public Accounts Committee on the activities at the Office of the Prime Minister.
PAC Special Audit Investigation Into Allegations of Financial Impropriety in the OPM 2 by The New Vision