KAMPALA: Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries, and Uganda Bureau of Statistics-UBOS have agreed to refund more than 9.9 billion shillings which they illegally acquired through false accountability.
In October 2021, the Ministry of Agriculture disbursed 9 billion shillings to Bukalasa Agricultural College in Wobulenzi, Luwero District, and the Fisheries Training Institute in Entebbe.
The funds were meant to cater for students’ feeding expenses and other infrastructure development projects and renovations of Bukalasa College Gate.
The Inspectorate of Government launched investigations into the matter, and 45 people were held responsible for the misappropriation of the funds.
Addressing the media on Friday, the Inspector General of Government, Beti Kamya, said that 15 individuals from the Ministry of Agriculture wrote to the Inspectorate in March requesting a refund of the money.
According to Kamya, the Inspectorate agreed that the funds would be refunded over a two-year period, with each member making an initial deposit of 5% within 30 days.She adds that the culprits have deposited property, including land and houses in prime areas, as security for the IG.
The lead investigator, Paul Ejangu, says that Bukalasa Agricultural College and the Fisheries Training Institute had been allocated about 2.5 billion shillings, but officials at the Ministry of Agriculture transferred money from other activities and gave the institutions 10 billion shillings.
In the case of UBOS, Kamya said that one billion shillings were requisitioned and paid to staff for field work activities purportedly conducted during COVID 19, yet only 33.1 million shillings were correctly spent on planned field activities.
Kamya says that the rest of the money had no activities undertaken but that officials submitted forged reports to account for the funds. She says they have ordered them to refund the money within 90 days.
Victor Acidri, the Manager of Investigations at the IG, says that over 28 individuals, including senior and junior staff from UBOS, were involved in the embezzlement of the funds.
Since the IG made a commitment to recover at least 100 billion shillings annually, Kamya says, they will not prosecute or name officials who have agreed to refund the money.
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. A recent report by the IG indicates that Uganda loses about 20 trillion schillings annually to corruption.
The Inspector General of Government Beti Kamya. (IMAGE: URN | theKR Media)