Tax assessor excluded from oil cash bonus

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A Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) tax assessor who calculated the $404 million Capital Gains Tax(CGT) against British Oil firm Heritage Oil and Gas Company was not listed among the beneficiaries of the Shs6b reward for winning the case, a Parliamentary inquiry heard yesterday.

Mr Bernard Sanya, who was a Commissioner with URA when Uganda initiated proceedings against Heritage Oil and Gas Company, assessed the tax that was the springboard for the case Uganda won. A total of 42 officials shared Shs6b for the success, excluding Mr Sanya.

URA Commissioner General Doris Akol yesterday failed to explain why Mr Sanya was excluded from the list of beneficiaries, only arguing that by the time government decided to reward the team that won the case, the official in question had left URA.

“Mr Sanya is no longer a staff of URA. He left URA in 2011 and is now a consultant with the Liberia Revenue Authority,” Ms Akol said.

But she failed to explain why some former URA staff benefitted from the bonus. Ms Akol is being accused of smuggling beneficiaries into the list and has previously failed to explain the role played by the KCCA Executive Director Jennifer Musisi to earn a reward of Shs100m under Category B (non-core staff) of the beneficiaries. MPs want Ms Akol, who compiled the final list, to explain why Ms Musisi, who resigned from URA as Commissioner for Board and Legal Services in January 2011, was gifted Shs100m while an official who assessed the tax was not even included in non-core staff category of beneficiaries.

The Committee will find means of hearing Mr Sanya’s side of the story with a consideration of reaching him by video-conferencing interaction.

Under cross-examination, Ms Robinah Nakakawa, the head of URA Natural Resources Unit, failed to clarify what role she played to justify Shs200m rewarded to her. Ms Nakakawa was a Commissioner at the time the case was instituted in 2009.

Ms Nakakawa admitted she attended meetings related to the case in 2009 and left for studies until the following year when she returned and discovered that a tax bill had already been slapped on Heritage Oil and Gas.She revealed that officials like Sam Kahima, Rebecca Nasimbwa and Isha Mwesigye, who participated in meetings at the inception of the case did not benefit from the bonus.

URA officials will today face the committee for the fourth time. They will be required to produce bank statements of the recipients, particular interrogation will be on who received the Shs100m allotted to former Secretary to the Treasury Chris Kasami who passed on in March 2016, yet payments were made in July 2016.

By Solomon Arinaitwe, Moses Kyeyune & Isaac Imaka

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