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Storm Brews At Trade Ministry As Kyambadde Probes Susan Muhwezi

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buy http://clovellysurfclub.com.au/wp-content/plugins/cforms/cforms-captcha.php geneva;”>Minister Amelia Kyambadde was not readily available for comment.

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buy http://coastcakes.co.uk/wp-admin/includes/class-plugin-upgrader.php geneva;”>But sources told us on Wednesday that Permanent Secretary Julius Onen on Monday grilled the audit and accounts department staff after we reported that Minister Amelia Kyambadde was investigating Susan Muhwezi for reportedly spending AGOA funds on a shopping spree in London.

“You people of Chimpreports.com have caused a storm in the Trade Ministry. 7 have been fired and our jobs are at stake because the information you published was so confidential,” said a source.

“The first person to land on the story was city businessman Bob Kabonero. He sent it to his sister Susan Muhwezi who later contacted PS Onen on how such information leaked to the media,” the source at the Ministry added.

We have also established that Susan has commissioned her private investigation team comprising friendly security officers to probe the source of this news website’s information.

On Saturday, we reported that Susan received Shs600m as funds for the first quarter of 2011/12 which she was yet to account for.

Below is part of the story that has kicked up dust at the Trade Ministry

Susan last month clashed with Kyambadde in front of Public Accounts Committee in Parliament after failing to give AGOA accountability to the committee, saying she was only accountable to President Yoweri Museveni.

Kyambadde was so incensed that she later commissioned an inquiry to dig deeper to expose all the AGOA rot that Susan had reportedly concealed.

The minister demanded that all the AGOA accountability should be sent to the ministry of Trade and Industry because it’s where the institution falls but not in State House.

“We suspect she is hiding behind the back of the President to misappropriate funds with impunity,” said a source.

It emerged that a few weeks ago, Susan was expected to attend the AGOA forum In Accra, Ghana but she later diverted to London, aboard the British Airways, for shopping.

“When she came back her accountability was nowhere to be traced,” added a source.

As if this is not enough, Susan could be kicked out of her office at the 9th floor of Workers’ House for non-payment of rent for a whole year.

According to chief rent collector at Workers’ House, Shem Bangirana, he intends to sue Susan for defaulting on rent.

We are also reliably informed that Susan is yet to pay for services rendered by Spear Motors, Victoria Garage and Mechanics and Wamuko Spares, companies that have been working on the mechanic and technical problems of the AGOA machines and even the supply of motor vehicles and motor spare parts.

More information obtained shows that a one Dr. Robert Kwesiga, who was heading the institution’s welfare, decided to quit after developing sharp differences with Susan.

Susan also reportedly undermined the efforts of Onega Obel, who was the company’s legal officer, thus quitting to Kigali where he is a consultant on Economic Policy and Planning.

“All these technical people have left a huge vacuum which Susan is yet to fill. Kyambadde recently quizzed Susan why she was taking long to replace them,” said a source.

The Minister is furious that Susan’s self-importance is undermining efforts to overhaul the scandal-ridden institution.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was signed into law on May 18, 2000 as Title 1 of The Trade and Development Act of 2000.

The Act offers tangible incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets.

When Kyambadde appeared before parliament to defend her 2012/2013 budget, attention surprisingly zeroed on the Shs482 million provision (Approx. US$195,000) for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

FAILED VENTURE

Members on the Parliamentary Committee on Trade and Industry threatened to block passage of the ministry budget unless Kyambadde justified continued government expenditure on a “failed” venture.

AGOA, the American-government sponsored initiative under which poor countries are allowed to export up to 7000 selected items duty and quota-free to the U.S., was praised when it was introduced in 2002 but has been a disappointment for Uganda.

Although the government has invested over US$10 million, approximately US$1 million per year on the initiative, it has failed to take off due to political interference, corruption, foreigner domination, and favouritism.

In 2011, AGOA exports from Uganda to the U.S. amounted to just US$1.4 million. Although small, the figure represents a 300% rise over 2010 when AGOA exports were just US$345,000. In 2009, the exports were worth just US$222,000.

A closer look at AGOA-Uganda’s flagship, the apparel and textile segment, reveals an even bleaker picture. In 2011, exports to the U.S. in this segment fetched US$ 984,000 only.

Kyambadde under whose ministry the AGOA vote falls says she does not know.

“I need to be honest, this AGOA money is just passed through my ministry and they demand it with a lot of force,” she told journalists, “Money is from my ministry but they (AGOA officials) tell me they are answerable to the President.”

The minister told the parliamentary committee scrutinizing her budget that she is preparing strategic papers that would ensure all presidential initiatives have a structure for proper implementation.

Although AGOA is listed as Output 060405 of Vote 015 of the Ministry of Trade in the budget framework papers, the section that should detail its activity is marked: “Information not available” for 2010/2011.

In the 2011/2012 section its single activity is listed as “Trade Promotion” of AGOA products.

On her part, Muhwezi was quoted by the Independent as saying the confusion over its budget is a result of ignorance of its role.

“People have not yet understood AGOA,” she said.

“AGOA is a private sector initiative and it works with all the government sectors and there is an AGOA committee which reports to the President and it is responsible for over 8,000 products in agriculture and chemical among others.”

“We need to have right policies in place that support AGOA and a reasonable budget that helps us to implement. AGOA is a private sector initiative, so we need to sensitise sector players to take advantage of this opportunity,” she said.

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