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NAADS Officials Probed For Diverting Shs7bn

 NAADS Executive Director, Samuel Mugasi

National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) officials found themselves in a challenging situation on Tuesday as they sought to address the concerns of the Public Accounts Committee on Commission, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (PAC-COSASE). Their predicament arose from an irregular diversion of Shillings 7 billion.

Led by their Executive Director Samuel Mugasi, the team interfaced with legislators COSASE to address queries raised by the Auditor General in a report covering the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2022. The report implicated them for inappropriately utilizing the said funds for domestic arrears.

Ronald Ndyomugenyi, the Rukiga County Member of Parliament, probed Mugasi on the origin of the funds, highlighting its absence from the budget. In response, Mugasi appeared contemplative and reserved in his words. Godfrey Masereka Mugisa, the NAADS Manager for Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation, intervened to clarify the matter.

He pointed out that the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development had communicated the allocation for domestic arrears, albeit not within the fiscal year 2021/2022. Further investigation by lawmakers showed that NAADS had also redirected Shillings 172 million towards the procurement of farm inputs without due approval.

Ndyomugenyi tasked Geoffrey Malongo, the Acting Head of Finance and Administration for the Secretariat to explain. Much to the meeting’s astonishment, Malongo remained silent, providing no answers. The Committee Chairperson Joel Ssenyonyi criticized the officials for their actions, noting their disregard for the Public Finance Management Act of 2014.

Ssenyonyi revealed that this was not the first instance of NAADS irregularly diverting funds, citing a prior case where the Secretariat diverted Shillings 2.1 billion without seeking proper approval in the previous financial year, 2020/2021. Mugasi attempted to defend the diversion by asserting that the funds were allocated to more pressing areas, as farmers were in dire need of agricultural inputs.

He explained that the diversion was a response to budgetary shortcomings and appealed for understanding. Mugasi assured the Committee that there would be no further diversions without proper approvals. In response to the situation, the committee directed NAADS officials to provide documents detailing the internal diversion decision in the forthcoming meeting on Wednesday, to validate their actions.


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