Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development officials are set to be grilled by Parliament after Speaker Rebecca Kadaga summoned them to explain the whereabouts of Shs39bn gratuity funds of ex-employees of the defunct East African Airways Corporation (EAAC).
This is after the ex-workers petitioned the speaker on Tuesday, demanding for their accumulated gratuity funds amounting to Shs39bn since 1977.
The ex-EAAC employees revealed in their petition that when the corporation collapsed in 1977, the sister Governments made an undertaking to pay all the employees at the time for loss of office, but the Ugandan Government declined to do the same, forcing the workers to drag Government to court in 1993.
They add that about 2006, government paid them 60% of their entitlements, but refused to pay the balance.
They add that they successfully challenged the refusal in the courts of law.
“…The Ministry of Finance in a most ridiculous and insensitive manner has insisted that before any other former employee of the East African Airways can be paid, those who have already received their payments should return in person to the Ministry of EAC Affairs with their bank statements to confirm that they were paid,” the petition reads in part.
East African Airways was an airline jointly run by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda which started operations in 1946, but was dissolved in 1977 after relations among the three countries deteriorated. The corporation employed about 620 people.
The petitioners noted that they followed their search for the money with an Order of Mandamus and in August 2016 and a small bunch of money was released by the Ministry of Finance, through the Ministry of East African Community Affairs, that saw only 15% of the total number paid, leaving the other 85% totaling to 530 people not paid to date.
The petitioners decried the manner in which the Finance Ministry is handling the matter saying that despite the fact that President Yoweri Museveni issued an Executive Order to have the money paid, the Ministry has been adamant.
Kadaga promised to hold a meeting with the Ministry officials and get explanations on why the former airline workers haven’t been paid to date. Ministry of Finance is headed by Keith Muhakanizi as the technical head; he is the Ministry’s PS and Secretary to the Treasury.