Oil & gas

Gov’t Officials Blew Shs 4Bn on Per Diem, Travel Before Receiving Shs6Bn Handshake

Francis Atoke, Fred Ruhindi and Peter Nyombi facing COSASE recently (Photo by Nixon Segawa)

The government officials who took Shs 6bn presidential handshake in August 2016 had earlier spent Shs 3.86bn between October 13 2011 and June 15 2016 on travel and per diem expenses, information pills a new report has revealed.

According to official documents tendered to the parliamentary committee investigating the oil cash bonanza on Tuesday by the Solicitor General, buy Francis Atoke, illness Shs 3,861,993,625 was put aside in six consecutive financial years (2010/2011 to 2015/2016) to facilitate the team that represented the country in a tax battle with Heritage Oil and Gas.

On October 13, 2011, at least 10 officials from the ministries of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and Energy and Uganda Revenue Authority took Shs 158,650,000 as per diem for 12 days which was spent in United Kingdom from Oct. 16 to 27, 2011.

According to the breakdown, the then Attorney General, Peter Nyombi took USD$ 12,865 equivalent of $1,072 a day.

The amount handed to Nyombi contravenes the current policy that gives cabinet ministers and Members of Parliament a flat rate of $500 per diem when they travel abroad on official duties.

Other officials included then Acting Solicitor General Ms. H Lwabi who bagged $11,425, Commissioner Legal Advisory Services in the office of the Attorney General, Christopher Gashirabake ($7,540), Ms. Elizabeth Nakkungu ($6,460), Henry Oluka ($6,460), Mary Nankabirwa ($6,460), Harriet Tukamushaba ($6,460), George Kalemara ($6,460) and Martin Mwambutsya ($6,460).

The audit report said no activity was attached after the spending of Shs 158bn by the above officials.

These revelations came to the limelight after President Museveni piled pressure on the Attorney General to provide a detailed account of the officials’ expenditure while handling the tax case.

ChimpReports in January broke the story of the ‘handshake’ that has since caused a massive stir in government and triggered a public outcry, with many demanding accountability and logic for the expenditure.

The latest information vindicates several lawmakers who have since argued that the Shs 6bn ‘handshake’ was unjustifiable as the officials handling the case had already profited from exorbitant per diems.

On February 10, 2012, six officials including Peter Nyombi took $ 69,317 as per diem for 11 days spent in London from February 18 to 28.

The audit report said by closure of business on April 17, the officials had not attached activity report documents for verification.

On February 21, 2012, Shs 46,537,425 was given to Bunyonyi Safaris Ltd to supply air tickets to the above officials.

The requisition attached for the money has details relating to travel to United States capital, Washington DC in connection with a case of armed activities in the territory of DRC versus Uganda in 2005.

On May 15, 2012, the team again took Shs 93,450,000 for a 8-day trip to UK (May 20 to 26).

Nyombi again spent $620 a day which is still above the mandatory $500.

Other officials who joined the team include URA’s former Legal Commissioner, Ali Ssekatawa, Ministry of Energy’s Geophysicist Alex Nyombi, URA’s Samuel Kahima, and Mathew Mugabi among others.

The audit report noted that the photocopies provided by the beneficiaries require corroboration with the original documents.

Part two continues in the subsequent publication.

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