The Inspectorate of Government-IG is keeping secret the names of corrupt officials to give them room to find means of recovering stolen money and returning it to the government without facing public scrutiny and court battles.
Speaking to URN, the Inspectorate Spokesperson, Muniira Ali, explained that they are in negotiations with the corrupt officials. She disclosed that after finding them culpable of stealing from the government, the IG agreed to keep their names out of the public so that they would be able to mobilise resources to repay the money. This, she argues, is within the discretion of the IGG to make decisions on what she deems fit to ensure that money lost through corruption is recovered.
The explanation comes after the IG has chosen to keep secret the names and positions of 45 officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries, held accountable for the misappropriation of shillings 9 billion disbursed by the Ministry of Agriculture in October 2021 to Bukalasa Agricultural College in Wobulenzi, Luweero District, and the Fisheries Training Institute in Entebbe.
These undisclosed officials agreed to refund more than 9.9 billion schillings, which they obtained through false accounting. The money in question was meant to cater to students’ feeding expenses, infrastructure development projects, and renovations of the gate of Bukalasa College, which didn’t happen since the country was under lockdown.
The IGG says that since the IG made a commitment to recover at least 100 billion shillings annually, they will not prosecute or name officials who have agreed to refund the money.
She says negotiations outside court are more effective and help in recovering the lost money in a short time.
However, Marlon Agaba, Executive Director of the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda, finds the decision to keep their identities nonsensical. He says it is the right of the public to know who steals their funds and to see them prosecuted and serve sentences instead of going scot-free. He goes on to say that protecting the identities of government thieves allows them to remain corrupt because they can return some of their loot to the government while keeping others, allowing them to continue in their impunity because the public cannot identify them.
On Wednesday, the Inspectorate of Government (IG) revealed that it has been able to recover shillings 12.6 billion in the past 8 months from corrupt government departments and individuals. This, Agaba says, is very little compared to the amount of money the government loses to corruption annually and says the IG should not be proud of such baby steps.
A recent report by the IG indicates that Uganda loses about 20 trillion schillings annually to corruption. According to the report, at least 131 billion Shillings are lost through taxation; 459 billion Shillings are lost in user fees and utilities; another 820 billion Shillings are lost in natural resources; and 15 billion Shillings are lost in environmental degradation.
The survey also found that two billion Shillings are lost as a result of absenteeism in government departments; 451 billion Shillings in health care and education services; 86 billion Shillings in security provisions; 590 billion Shillings in procurement and budgeting; and 233 billion Shillings in regulation.
According to the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index for 2021, Uganda scored 27 out of 100, which is below the average of 33 points for the sub-Saharan region and 43 points for the global average.