By Henry Sekanjako
MPs on the parliamentary committee on presidential affairs have questioned minister for general duties in the office of the Prime Minister Prof. Tarsis Kabwegyere for diverting Sh8bn meant for the purchase of land to resettle Bududa landslide victims in the Mt Elgon region of eastern Uganda.
According to the committee, Parliament approved Sh8bn during the 2013/2014 financial year to purchase land for the resettlement of people hit by disasters in Mt Elgon, however out of the Sh8bn, Sh4.178bn was spent yet no land was procured.
“We shall not allow this, if you know there is a problem, you shouldn’t take advantage of it,” said Peter Ogwang the committee vice chairperson.
The MPs demanded that the Office of the Prime Minister provides them with copies of a letter directing the diversion of the money.
In response however, Kabwegyere who was in company of ten ministers from the Prime Minister’s office, told the committee that despite the release of the funds to procure land, this was never implemented due to the fact that the procurement process was nearing completion.
“Some unsuccessful bidders filed complaints to the PPDA throughout the financial year challenging the process to which the later responded by directing for administrative reviews. Thus the funds couldn’t be utilized for the acquisition of the land as planned.” The minister explained.
Kabwegyere who was representing the Prime Minister further explained that arising out of the civil strife in South Sudan, there was an influx of refugees into Uganda which required emergency response by the relevant departments.
He added that as a result, sh4.178bn was approved by cabinet for use during the emergency adding that a request for funds was submitted to ministry of finance by OPM which was rather advised to utilize part of the sh8bn which had been released for land procurement for the emergency.
“As a result of the emergency activities we got authority from the ministry of finance allowing us to re-allocate the money,” explained Christine Gguwatudde.
She added that the balance of sh3.822bn was used to procure food and non-food relief items after hailstorms that destroyed food crops in the North and Eastern parts of Uganda between the month of May, June and July 2014.
The office of the Prime Minister now wants the committee to approve another sh8bn in the financial year 2014/15 to enable it acquire the said land to accommodate refugees.
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