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Finance Officials Quizzed over South Sudan Payments

Ocailap told MPs that the Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija had already asked the Auditor General, John Muwanga to conduct a special audit into the payment made to the ten companies.
26 Mar 2019 17:09
Officials of Ministry of Finance Appearing before Parliament's Select Committee.

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Parliament Select Committee investigating the payment of 40 billion Shillings to 10 Ugandan companies who supplied goods to South Sudan has quizzed officials from the Finance Ministry.  

Patrick Ocailap, the Deputy Secretary to the Treasury and Accountant General, Lawrence Ssemakula on Tuesday appeared before the Select Committee chaired by Kyankwanzi Woman MP Ann Maria Nankabirwa to answer queries concerning the payment.   

The ten companies paid include; Rubya Investments, Kibungo Entreprises, Aponye (U) Ltd, Afro Kai ltd, Swift commodities establishment ltd, Sunrise commodities, Sophie Omari, Apo General Agencies, Ropani International and KK Travellers.     

Some of the companies that were not included on the list include; Roko Construction Company, Ake-jo General enterprise, JB Traders, Odyek Ejang Company, Dott Services, Gunya company limited, Premier company, MFK company among others.  

In 2016, the Government of South Sudan entered into a bilateral agreement with the Government of Uganda concerning monies owed to Uganda-South Sudan traders by the Republic of South Sudan.

It was agreed that Uganda pays the outstanding 42.6 billion shillings to the Uganda-South Sudan grain traders and the South Sudan to refund the money to Uganda in addition of issuance of a sovereign guarantee by South Sudan to secure the payment. South Sudan indicated the individual companies to be paid in the agreement and it further stipulated how to handle unverified claims.

The bilateral agreement between South Sudan and Uganda was subsequently approved by parliament on 3rd April 2018 and 40 billion shillings was appropriated in the Financial Year 2018/2019 budget for its implementation. It’s on this basis that the Ministry paid out 40 billion shillings to the grain traders leaving an outstanding balance of 1 billion shillings

Ocailap told MPs that the Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija had already asked the Auditor General, John Muwanga to conduct a special audit into the payment made to the ten companies. However, the MPs raised questions on why the Ministry only considered the intervention of the Auditor General after payments had been made.

Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga asked the Finance officials to explain why they paid only ten traders yet the Ministry of Trade list had 23 verified companies.

Accountant General Lawrence Ssemakula explained that the list was compressed since it had the same companies repeated.   

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Asked if Finance Ministry had appointed an officer on the Joint Verification Committee, Ocailap said he was not aware if they were represented something that raised more questions.

Mpuuga questioned whether Finance is in possession of any report from the joint verification committee and on what grounds the companies paid were generated. 

Ocailap asked for more time to cross check if the report existed arguing that he had not seen it.  

Nankabirwa questioned Finance on what risk Uganda taxpayers stand if South Sudan goes ahead to constitute a unitary government and whether it may have an effect on the bilateral agreement.

But Ocailap said that the guarantee given by the Republic of South Sudan is binding even when they form a unitary government. 

The Minister of Finance is expected to appear before the Select Committee on Wednesday concerning the payments to traders.  

                   

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