Members of Parliament (MPs) on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have called for speedy verification of Cooperatives across the country.
This is after lawmakers raised concerns on Shs5bn payment to unverified Cooperative Unions across the country.
The call was made during a Monday meeting held between the Committee and officials from the Ministry of Trade who had appeared to answer queries raised in the 2017/2018 Auditor General report.
Grace Adong, the Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade said that out of a total of 22 cooperative unions, the inter-ministerial verification committee has verified seven and their reports are ready.
Among the verified Cooperative Unions include; Bunyoro Growers Cooperative Union that claimed Shs5.2bn but verification put claims at Shs4.8bn, while Masaka Cooperative Union’s claims were Shs18.9bn and verified amount is Shs17.7bn, Teso Cooperative Union claimed Shs37bn and only Shs16.3bn was verified, North Bukedi Cooperative Union claimed Shs21.8bn and the verified figure was Shs11.4bn, Masaba Cooperative Union claimed Shs9.7bn with verified figure putting their claim at Shs7.8bn.
The Busoga Growers Cooperative Union claimed Shs15.4bn and verified figure put their claim at Shs10.4bn and Lango Cooperative Union had put their claim at Shs11.6bn and in the end, only Shs6.4bn was verified.
The Auditor General’s report noted that the available field visit reports indicated that revitalization of the Cooperative Societies was hindered by lack of capitalization and access to commodity and agricultural credit and that the Ministry of Trade hasn’t prioritised Cooperative Unions that were affected by the war yet payments would have helped inject finances into Cooperative Unions.
On the other hand, the inter-ministerial committee is yet to verify 15 Cooperative Unions among which include; Kigezi Cooperative Union Shs20.7bn, West Nile Shs505m, Banyankore Kweteraba Cooperative Union Shs14.6bn, West Mengo Cooperative Union Shs101m, Middle North Cooperative Union Shs4.68bn, West Acholi Cooperative Union Shs517m and East Acholi Shs1.1bn.
The others include; Madi Cooperative Union Shs1.6bn, Nyakatonzi Cooperative Union 698m, East Mengo Cooperative Union Shs1.5bn, Kimwanya Dairy Cooperative Union Shs3bn, Uganda Corporative Transport Union Shs14.4bn and Bugisu Cooperative Union Shs15.2bn.
However, a scrutiny into the documents raised queries, with Mathias Mpuuga (Masaka Municipality) wondering why unverified cooperatives were paid before verification.
Mpuuga asked, “Did you determine the pay before verification? Why is unverified having variance in figures?”
Adong told the Committee, “Some of these payments could have been made through claims made by the Solicitor General; no other payment is made unless the committee has made verification. Most of these payments were made much earlier. When you look at this table we are indicating the balances of payment made earlier. It is just deduction once earlier payments are deducted then pending claims are captured.”
Mpuuga rejected Adong’s explanation saying it doesn’t make up what he is looking for and demanded an explanation on the premise of payment to unverified Cooperative Unions.
A quick computation revealed that about Shs5bn had been dished out to the unverified Unions.
The Committee asked the Ministry to speed up the verification after the Committee learnt that since 2016, only 7 Unions have been verified and at that rate, it would take Government another 15years to verify the other Unions.