The Deputy Attorney General (AG) Mwesigwa Rukutana has appealed to Parliament to reconsider a recommendation by the Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authority and State Enterprises (COSASE) calling on the oil handshake beneficiaries to refund the money.
The committee recommended that all funds paid out of URA account to the beneficiaries of the handshake be refunded.
It further recommended that all officers who flouted the law should be held accountable and in this vein, the IGG should institute investigations with a view to establish the culpability and possible offences.
The Deputy AG however, said he found the two recommendations contradictory and called for staying of the recommendation to have beneficiaries refund the money.
“Suppose the IGG carries out the investigations and finds out that the officers are not guilty and yet you have condemned them to be held accountable? I propose that other recommendations should be shelved and maintain that of the IGG instituting an inquiry,” Rukutana tried to convince the house.
Rukutana argued that compelling the beneficiaries to refund the money yet there are more investigations to be carried out by the IGG, would be punishing them before exhausting all the necessary investigations.
“Since more investigations are being recommended, let us not condemn or subject the beneficiaries to punishment until the IGG investigates to find out whether they are culpable or not,” Rukutana noted.
However, the Committee Chairperson, Abdul Katuntu was quick to respond to the AG, wondering whether he had read the Public Management Finance Act (PMFA) before making such submissions.
“We do need to discuss soberly without emotions. I expect the AG to have read the PFMA; Section 78, 769 and 80. There are two liabilities; our recommendations about the IGG is talking about possible criminal offences, money paid out contrary to the PFMA and Revenue Act,” Katuntu responded.
The committee chair also argued that the committee has already established that the money was wrongly given, but also felt that in the process, there are possible crimes that might have been committed by some officers which should be investigated by the IGG since Parliament isn’t a criminal organ.