KAMPALA: The former Minister of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development, Beti Olive Namisango Kamya Turomwe came under fire from the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises– COSASE on Wednesday to explain how she initiated a supplement budget of Shillings 10.6 billion to offset six claimants without the involvement of the Uganda Land Commission – ULC.
Chaired by Joel Ssenyonyi, the Nakawa West MP is investigating queries raised in the Auditor General’s report for the Financial Year 2019/2020 that captured questionable transactions causing financial loss of billions of Shillings to the Government.
At the time of the audit between December 2019 – May 2021, Kamya was in charge of the Lands Ministry that superintends over the operations of the Commission, which is mandated to document, verify, preserve and maintain land owned or administered by the Government.
The Shillings 10.6 billion Shillings was used to compensate beneficiaries who included Kasiya Rwabukurukuru who recieved Shillings 6.43 billion for land at Kiyunga in Sheema District, and Stephen Peter Nagenda of Rwanswa in Kibaale who recieved Shillings 1.06 billion.
The others are Julius Busuulwa who recieved Shillings 1.4 billion, Natalia Namuli who recieved Shillings 1.6 billion, Yisaka Lwakana who received Shillings 125.3 million, and Mugisha Geoffrey who recieved Shillings 1.49 billion for land at Buyaga in Kibaale District.
Ssenyonyi tasked Kamya to explain how she initiated the supplementary budget without the involvement of the Commission in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act, 2015.
Kamya denied initiating the supplementary budget, saying that she consulted technical persons under the Ministry and wrote to the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to provide the funds to offset the disgruntled claimants following a presidential directive.
But Beatrice Byenkya Nyakaisiki, the suspended Chairperson of the Commission told the probe Committee that Kamya did not consult them while initiating the supplementary budget. Byenkya added that even when the money was released, they attempted to sit down to devise modalities of paying the claimants but realized shortly that the Accounting Officer Barbara Imaryo had already disbursed the money to the beneficiaries.
Barbara Imaryo, who doubles as the Secretary to the Commission is wanted by the probe committee over accountability queries, but she has snubbed several summonses. Her predecessor Siraj Isabrye was last week arrested while appearing before the Committee over unexplained authorization of payments.
Making reference to the Auditor General’s report, Roland Ndyomugyenyi, the Rukiga County MP wondered why Kamya was only interested in initiating a supplementary budget that was meant to pay out the six claimants leaving out thousands of others with pending claims at the ULC.
Tasked to provide proof of the Presidential directive, Kamya, who is the current Inspector General of Government, said she had the correspondences but failed to table them before the legislators. The committee gave her until Monday, May 30th May 2022 next week to provide the evidence including court orders requiring clearance of the claimants