By Madinah Tebajjukira
THE delegation that accompanied the Libyan leader, Col. Muamar Gadaffi, to attend the Afro Arab Youth Festival in Uganda in March last year left a debt of sh1.9b, MPs heard yesterday.
The acting gender and social development ministry permanent secretary, Joel Muhairwe, said the ministry had budgeted for only 2,000 delegates.
Appearing before the parliamentary committee on gender yesterday, Muhairwe said the figure rose because of the 2,000 extra delegates that accompanied Gadaffi and the extension of the festival activities by four days.
He said the activities were extended to enable Gadaffi officially open the Gadaffi National mosque in Old Kampala.
Libya funded the construction of the Mosque through the World Islamic Call Society.
â€œWe expected 2,000 delegates, but the Government extended the function for four more days and Gadaffi came with many delegates, whom we had not catered for. His delegations doubled the number we had planned for. We had nothing to do, but to meet the extra costs,â€ Muhairwe said.
The principal accountant, Harriet Naluze, said the ministry did not have cash at the time to meet the costs and negotiated with the service providers to take care of the delegates, hoping to pay the money later.
A year after the function, the ministry is yet to find money to pay the debt.
Naluze said the service providers, who included hotels and transport companies have threatened to sue the ministry over the debt.
â€œThe figure is worrying given the fact that the finance ministry has not provided money to settle the debt,â€ Naluze said.
In March last year, Uganda hosted the 2nd Afro Arab Youth festival at Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala.
It drew more than 4,000 participants, mainly from the Arab countries. The festival cost about sh4b.
Muhairwe also told the committee, chaired by Ferry Kabanda (NRM), that the ministry had domestic arrears of about sh9b.
These comprise food expenses for juvenile remand homes, workersâ€™ compensation and contributions to international labour organisations.
Naluze also said the ministry had set aside sh400m to compensate Bundibugyo Ebola victims, adding that the ministry was waiting for the list of people who would receive the money from the chief administrative officers.