The ongoing Shs6bn presidential handshake by the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) continues to unearth shocking information.
The latest is that Uganda’s Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs paid out Shs2.73bn to ghosts during the arbitration case between Heritage Oil and Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).
Documents tabled before COSASE by Justice Ministry recently indicates that the Ministry paid Shs2.73bn to different individuals, but their identities have remained unknown up today.
The ministry was trying to justify the supplementary budgets passed by Parliament to facilitate the trial in London.
The analytical report from the Committee reads in part: “In their submissions, Ministry of Justice did not account for the beneficiaries to whom some payments were made. In some cases, such payments were effected without indicating the items which benefitted from such expenditure.”
It adds: “In addition, several expenditure items were reported with dates such as July 2017, 2018 and 2019.”
In 2012, the Ministry indicated that it spent Shs2.2bn, but parliament was shocked when it (ministry) failed to reveal the recipients.
Additionally, a total of Shs446. 34m was paid out as per diem to officials during the arbitration proceedings between July 4 to 21, 2014, but no identity has been attached to the individuals who received the payments.
It is worth noting that Parliament appropriated a supplementary budget of Shs52.4bn; of this, Shs49.9bn was allocated to Ministry of Justice, while Shs2.5bn went to URA.
The Legislators asked the Solicitor General, Francis Atoke to return to Parliament on Thursday (tomorrow) with details on the ghost payments.
As the Committee winds up its investigations, it is expected to meet President Yoweri Museveni at State House. It should be noted that Museveni authorised the Shs6bn cash bonanza to the team that represented Uganda in the oil case between Heritage Oil and URA.