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Billions of Shillings Stolen from EAC Secretariat

EAC flags at the secretariat in Arusha

By Henry Mugisha Bazira

On April 20th 2010 an oil spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico of the United States of America attributed to an explosion and sinking of a Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig.

The Oil rig was owned by British Petroleum (BP) Company, mind decease http://csrf.net/wp-content/plugins/slidedeck2-personal/views/admin-options.php operated by Transocean and Halliburton (that also operates in Uganda) was the drilling contractor. The trio was found culpable.

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The blowout claimed eleven lives of workers and caused a sea-floor oil gush that flowed for 87 days spilling an estimated 4.9million barrels of crude oil and was considered the among the worst accidental oil spills in the history of the petroleum industry.

The spill was contained and declared sealed on the 19th September 2010. A massive response was later started to protect the beaches, mind http://cphpost.dk/wp-includes/class-wp-customize-setting.php wetlands and estuaries from the spreading oil.

But by the time this started extensive damage to marine, clinic http://cpllogoterapia.com/wp-includes/functions.wp-styles.php wildlife and fishing habitats and tourism industries had already occurred. This was followed by numerous investigations and a legal suit. The legal suit has been ongoing since 2011.

During the second week of January 2015, a US court ruled against BP on the final amount oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico after the Deep Horizon Incident stating that the amount of oil spilled into the ocean was equivalent to 3.19million barrels (Evan Kelly, 2015).

This was in disagreement to the initial estimate of 4.9million barrels and US government’s calculations of 4.2million barrels spilled. It is important to note that the amount of oil spilled has a consequence to the penalty and amount of fines the oil companies would have to pay. According to the US law, the maximum amount of penalty that Oil Company can pay for an oil spill is US$4,300 per barrel. This would mean a maximum penalty of US$21,07billion at an estimate of 4.9million barrels spill or US$18.02billion for a US government estimate of 4.2billion barrel spill. With all due respect, the determination by the US court that the spill was actually 3.19million barrels of oil – considering that there were no oil meters installed to measure the amount of spill raises questions.

By this action, the US court in effect reduced the maximum penalty that the oil companies are likely to pay to US$13.7billion. It is important to note that the fines could even be lower than this once the court makes its final ruling in the subsequent sessions.  This, notwithstanding, is evidence that the legal systems in the US at least works.

For Uganda, it is not clear whether the Judiciary have the political and administrative clout to actually take an oil company through such rigour – considering the numerous botched environmental cases, low public confidence in the legal system and the multiplicity of legal gaps and enforcement challenges.

The new laws that have been put in place to address the petroleum sector are riddled with gaps and implementation challenges that will be taken advantage of by Oil Companies to cheat government of Uganda and go scout-free.

In addition, many national policies, laws and regulations that have a bearing on the oil, gas and mining industries are at various stages of revision/amendment to make them complaint to the demands of such industries – meaning that the country is not fully prepared to address the challenges presented by these industries.

This calls for serious internal reflection on the effectiveness of Uganda’s regulatory frameworks with a view of strengthening them in respect to the oil, gas and mining sectors.

The falling international oil prices is putting brakes on the pace at which Uganda’s oil will be commercialized, creating opportunity for the country to rectify the legal and institutional gaps before its oil reaches the market.

The willingness of Uganda’s politicians and technocrats to actually take advantage of this opportunity will be seen going forward.

Authored by Mr. Henry Mugisha Bazira, Executive Director, Water Governance Institute (WGI) and founding chairperson of the Civil Society Coalition on Oil and Gas (CSCO) in Uganda and a member of the Energy and Extractives Working Group (ESWG) of the Uganda Contracts Monitoring Coalition (UCMC).
An audit of the East African Community financial operations has unearthed massive theft of billions of shillings, ambulance http://cbvsalvail.ca/wp-includes/class-wp-network.php tainting the reputation of the regional law-making assembly.

The Report on the review of the EAC Financial Statements for the year ended 30th June 2013 said there is need to “comply to Financial Rules and Regulations, malady completion of the Institutional Review and a stop to unnecessary expenditure of resources.”

At the same time, and the Accounts Committee recommended to the Council of Ministers to urgently address various recurrent challenges dogging the EAC Organs and Institutions.

The Report which was laid on table on Friday by the Chairperson of the Accounts Committee, Hon Jeremie Ngendakumana, is expected to be debated next week.

On the consolidated financial statements of the EAC Organs, the Report revealed that there was over-expenditure on several budget lines and tasks the Council of Ministers to direct the EAC Management to adhere to financial rules and regulations and to seek requisite approvals.

It further wanted the EAC management to tighten loopholes and rid anomalies in accountabilities for imprest advances.

The massive plunder of resources occurred during Margaret Zziwa’s reign as EAC Speaker.

The report found the internal audit unit of the EAC to be lacking in sufficient capacity to undertake its plans and relevant reviews.

It thus said capacity gaps must be addressed holistically both in terms of recruitment and in improvement of internal control systems to enhance security of resources.

The Committee also observed the unnecessary delays in finalisation of the institutional review and noted its concern about the endless costs of the exercise to the Community.

“The EAC has several unfilled staff positions and to bridge the gap, the management has often been forced to offer short term renewable contracts which has several disadvantages to both the staff and the organisation”, a section of the report reads in part.

The Committee is recommending for the filling of the various vacant positions to enable the Community to perform to expectations.

On the converse, the Committee also wants proper recruitment to avoid promotion of the short term contracts – it notes that some staff have held the temporary positions for a prolonged period, terming the move irregular.

In order to curb unnecessary travel, the Committee urged that the EAC places a limit on the number of days for which an Officer can be away from the duty station and only lift such a limit in exceptional circumstances.

Hon Ngendakumana’s Committee further tasked the Secretariat to “address the irregularities in procurement of air tickets for which it (the Secretariat) expensed over USD 3.4 Million.”

Part of the challenges noted here are lack of authorization and no clear channels of information flow in certain cases,” the report revealed.

It thus wants the Council of Ministers to “direct EAC management to sanction value for money audit in the matter and to institute and enforce prompt recovery measures for unutilised tickets.”

Wasteful expenditure

On construction works, the Committee said a building policy and procurement manual for the EAC Secretariat be developed.

It tasked EAC to ensure that in future building projects designs are revisited by independent experts.  This, the Committee ascertains, shall safeguard the interests of the Community.

The same is recommended for the Bills of Quantities for which findings reveal inadequate descriptions.

The Committee was of the view that the Estates Management Office needed strengthening to give the desired capacity to perform estate functions more effectively.

At the EACJ, the Committee termed as “wasteful expenditure” – citing the example of a meeting taken out of the Office to evaluate bidding/review the Strategic Plan and for which, a total of USD 116,000 was paid out as Daily Subsistence Allowances.

Though genuine activities, the Report states that it could have been held in an alternative place that does not require payment of DSA.

The Committee thus recommended to the Assembly to “urge the Council of Ministers to direct the EAC Management to amend the financial rules and staff regulations with the aim of discouraging meetings in Moshi and to put an exception clause to really justify the necessity.”

It also wants the staffing issue at the Court addressed.  Various posts are yet to be filled four years later according to the Report.

At EALA, the Committee noted of irregular payment of perdiem amounting to USD 9,084 to facilitate attendance to funeral committees and recommended that the Council of Ministers directs the management to form guidelines on death related expenditure for all EAC Organs and Institutions.

Under the projects, the HIV/AIDS Project is reported to have poorly utilised budgeted funds only managing to spend 47 percent of total funds earmarked for its programs while the APSA Project has over-expenditure without approval in breach of regulation 20 of the Financial Rules and regulations.

The Report also called for prompt measures to be instituted to ensure claiming of refundable VAT in all the EAC Partner States and to ensure supported documentation on all the miscellaneous projects accounts

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