36 government officials shared Shs6 billion oil bonus – MPs

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PARLIAMENT- Only 36 selected government officials shared the Shs6b bonus code-named the “golden presidential handshake” and not 42 individuals as previously reported in various correspondences and media.

This revelation came during proceedings of the parliamentary inquiry into the oil cash bonus yesterday.

Mbarara Municipality MP Michael Tusiime, who moved a motion that led to the inquiry, yesterday tabled before the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) a list of the 36 beneficiaries.

He punched holes in the previous government correspondences that indicated the Shs6b was shared by 42 officials.

The list that was tabled before the committee is dominated by officials from the Justice ministry and Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).

Some bureaucrats at URA who were central to the assessment of the Capital Gains Tax and the subsequent handling of the separate cases against Tullow Oil and Heritage were not considered for reward, Mr Tusiime said.

He told the committee that Mr John Mayanja, an assistant commissioner at URA, Mr Martin Mulangi and Mr Moses Kibumba are some of the URA officials who did not benefit from the “golden presidential handshake” despite being part of the team that handled the two oil tax disputes in the arbitration court in London, UK.

As part of the terms of reference spelt out by the Speaker, the committee is investigating the criteria and logic that was used to compile the list of the beneficiaries. All the officials who shared the money are lined up for investigation.

The URA Commissioner General, Ms Doris Akol, who superintended over the Shs6b distribution and compiled the list of the beneficiaries, was singled out for criticism yesterday.

The beneficiaries were divided into core, non-core and support staff.

Mr Tusiime said Ms Akol “coerced” Finance minister Matia Kasaija to provide the money, contrary to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).” This payment exposed double-standards in the paying of public servants,” Mr Tusiime submitted.

“The method through which the said reward was initiated by the commissioner general of URA raises serious ethical issues and might be bordering on the offence of corruption…” he said.

Ms Akol will appear before the committee today to explain the payments, which officials benefitted and the criteria she used to compile the list.

The committee will also interview President Museveni, who convened a meeting on May 15, 2015 at his upcountry home in Rwakitura where he directed Ms Akol to recommend an “adequate reward” for the team that successfully represented Uganda in the Capital Gains Tax case against Heritage Oil and Gas.

Mr Tusiime explained that by writing letters requesting to be made the Accounting Officer of the Shs6b reward, Ms Akol violated the PFMA which provides that Secretary to the Treasury be in charge of appointing Accounting Officers.

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