The judiciary is choking on debts and accumulated arrears to the tune of 7 Billion Shillings.
The matter came to light today during a meeting between the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and officials from the Judiciary led by Permanent Secretary Kagole Kivumbi.
Out of the Shillings 7 billion rent debt, the Court of Appeal housed in Twed Towers along Kafu road in Kampala, requires 4.2 billion shillings to settle the landlord -Twed Consulting Co. Ltd while the Supreme Court located at Plot 10 Upper Kololo along Seenu Awasthi Terrace needs Shillings 2.2 billion shillings to pay Tembo Steel Ltd (U).
According to documents before PCA, the Judiciary is housed in 85 Court buildings and commits a monthly rent of Shillings 765 million for 56 Court premises, which is about 9.1 billion shillings annually.
In his 2016 report, Auditor General John Muwanga noted that the judiciary had a total amount of 16 billion shillings due for rent out of which 9 billion was paid leaving an outstanding balance of about 7 billion.
Muwanga observed that the accrued expenditure commitments were not budgeted and were thus not authorized by Parliament.
Angelina Osegge, the PAC Chairperson wondered why the Judiciary entered into agreements that bind Government to financial commitments over a financial year without the authorization of Parliament, contrary to the Public Finance Management Act of 2015.
She also questioned why the Judiciary pays rent in dollars contrary to the Ninth Parliament's resolution for all government entities to pay rent in shillings.
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Franca Akello, the Agago Woman MP noted that according to an agreement between Court of Appeal and Twed Consulting Company Ltd, the Judiciary is required to pay a monthly fee of US 4 billion shillings annually. She also wondered how the Judiciary could commit the taxpayer to such huge amounts of money.
In his response, Kivumbi explained that they declared all outstanding arrears to the Ministry of Finance but they are yet to receive a response. He noted that the Judiciary's annual rent obligation is about 11 billion shillings which is always budgeted for but the budget is never fully funded which led to rent accumulation.
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Kiira Municipality MP, Ibrahim Ssemujju expressed concern that the Judiciary does not use logic in taking into account the Chief Government Valuer's advice.
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The legislators also established that although the Uganda Land Commissioner is in charge of all Government property the current agreement between the Judiciary and Twed Consulting Co. Ltd was signed on 1st March 2016 between ULC and Twed Consulting Co. Ltd under unclear circumstances. The contract expires on 28th February 2019.
An earlier 2011 agreement was signed by the then Judiciary Permanent Secretary, Dorcus Okalany and Dan Twebaze for Twed Consulting Company Ltd.
The Committee had summoned Okalany currently the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands to appear before the committee to explain the anomalies. However, she wrote backing indicating that she would be away on official duty.