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Finance PS Muhakanizi faces PAC over market cash

By Vision Reporter

Added 10th July 2013 01:10 PM

Secretary to the Treasury, Keith Muhakanizi, today (Wednesday) interfaces with Parliament Public Accounts Committee to explain the role played by the ministry of finance in the botched sh15b Presidential Initiative on Markets.

Secretary to the Treasury, Keith Muhakanizi, today (Wednesday) interfaces with Parliament Public Accounts Committee to explain the role played by the ministry of finance in the botched sh15b Presidential Initiative on Markets.

By Moses Walubiri

Secretary to the Treasury, Keith Muhakanizi, today (Wednesday) interfaces with Parliament Public Accounts Committee to explain the role played by the ministry of finance in the botched sh15b Presidential Initiative on Markets.


The initiative which was started in 2010 to create a revolving fund to help the poorest of the poor in markets around the country access loans at no interest went off the rails at implementation stage resulting into a slew of accountability flaws highlighted in the Auditor General’s report for the year ending June 2011.

The auditors noted that lists of beneficiaries were inflated, while the project lost billions of money as bureaucrats in implementing agencies paid colossal sums to ghost entities (markets).

Members of the Joint Steering Committee – the entity which drafted the concept paper upon which the project was conceived Tuesday told legislators that the finance ministry and Microfinance Support Centre (JSC) Ltd “hijacked” the project the moment it became bankable, excluding them from its implementation and ultimately mismanaging it.

One of the JSC member, Winnie Atwine, told legislators how colossal sums used to be disbursed to ghost beneficiaries in non-existent upcountry markets as the project turned into a cash bonanza.

By time of audit, sh10b had been disbursed.

Former Vice President Wandira Kazibwe's stint as Microfinance Support Center (MSC) boss came under increased scrutiny.

MPs investigating financial queries about the botched sh15b presidential initiative on market vendors, heard that Kazibwe together with fisheries minister, Ruth Nankabirwa and then Finance Minister, Syda Bbumba "hijacked" the project once it became bankable leading to its ultimate failure.

The queries about the project are contained in the Auditor General's report for the financial year ending June 2011.

Although the report does not directly implicate Kazibwe, Nankabirwa and Bbumba, members of the Joint Steering Committee (JSC) that authored the concept paper upon which the project was conceived accused the trio, together with bureaucrats at the finance ministry and MSC of intentionally elbowing them out during the implementation stage.
 
This they, said, resulted into "outright fraud" as officials in the finance ministry and MSC  inflated lists of intended beneficiaries and sometimes paid colossal sums to ghost entities as the project went off rails.

The JSC is chaired by Dr. Sam Lyomoki and has Christopher Kihirita, Presidential Advisor on Markets Godfrey Kayongo and his deputy, Winnie Atwine as members.

"When it came to implementation, finance ministry and MSC shunted us aside. They said we couldn't handle. When we asked them how they intended to implement the project, we were informed that Resident District Commissioners and SACCOS were going to be used to channel funds to beneficiaries," Lyomoki said, adding, "We abandoned the project and informed the President about it."

"Many players came on board with the intention of stealing and distorting the intention of the program," Atwine said as she reminisced about how Kazibwe, in one of the meetings ignored her fears that the project was being mishandled.

"Kazibwe said, "you woman, keep quiet. I was at State House earlier than you," Atwine said.

JSC members told MPs that some of the minutes in meetings with MSC and finance ministry were "doctored" binding them to positions which they were against, while some were "out rightly forged."

In his report, the Auditor General highlighted a slew of accountability flaws ranging from falsified accountabilities, inflation of lists of beneficiaries to payment of funds to ghost beneficiaries.

The report, for example, notes that sh662m was paid to Kampala United Park Yard Cooperative SACCO by MSC for various market beneficiaries.

 

Finance PS Muhakanizi faces PAC over market cash

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