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Cabinet Discussed Oil Cash Reward Informally – Mitala

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While appearing before the committee, John Mitala who also doubles as the Secretary to Cabinet told the committee that the reward was informally discussed by cabinet after the former Attorney General Fred Ruhindi alluded to it.
John Mitala, the Head of Public Service and Secretary to Cabinet appearing before COSASE.

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Parliament's oil cash probe committee has today expressed displeasure with submissions made by the head of public service John Mitala describing it as not useful.

Mitala was appearing before the committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) currently investigating the Shillings 6 billion reward to 42 government officials for their role in a tax arbitration case between the Government of Uganda and Heritage Oil.

While appearing before the committee, Mitala who also doubles as the Secretary to Cabinet told the committee that the reward was informally discussed by cabinet after the former Attorney General Fred Ruhindi alluded to it.

However, when asked for the meeting minutes showing the discussion, Mitala told the committee chaired by Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu that there are no such records since he did not consider it as a substantial issue.

Mitala's submission did not go well with committee members, with Abdu Katuntu questioning whether cabinet minutes are taken selectively and/or the payment was not important to cabinet.

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Mitala responded saying that cabinet minutes are not recorded verbatim indicating that on the particular day, there was no formal paper presented by former Attorney General Ruhindi about the reward.

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At this point, Katuntu put it to Mitala that his committee was disappointed that such an important issue had been raised to cabinet and there is no record of it.

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Mitala however said that the decision is for the committee to conclude whether he was useless, insisting that if cabinet had made a conclusive decision on the amount to be rewarded and other details, he would have recorded the minutes.

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Mitala also told the committee that he was not party to any meetings outside cabinet that discussed the reward to the 42 government officials and cannot tell whether the public service standing orders were followed.

He told the committee that the standing orders require a public servant or group of public servants who think they have done extra-ordinary work to write to their permanent secretary justifying a need for a honorarium.

Mitala said that at this point, the permanent secretary makes a decision or further consultations in line with the request.

He confirmed to the committee that basing on what has come out since he did not attend meetings regarding the reward, the six billion Shillings payment was not under the Public Service Standing Orders but that since the president is a fountain of honour, he can give anything.