The Commissioner General Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Doris Akol
Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) is fighting back after its senior officials and some government top shots named in the infamous Shs 6bn handshake saga quietly sneaked into Parliament to meet Speaker Rebecca Kadaga.
Government Chief Whip – Hon Ruth Nankabirwa, the Commissioner General – Doris Akol; Commissioner Legal Advisory Services in Attorney General’s Office – Christopher Gashibarake, Director Information Office of the Prime Minister – Mr. Simon Mayende, and Commissioner Tax Policy at the Ministry of Finance – Mr. Moses Kaggwa yesterday met Kadaga at her office.
The secret meeting came ahead of the much anticipated debate on the now controversial bonus payments to selected government officials after recovery of Capital Gains Tax from Tullow Oil Company.
Parliament Spokesperson Chris Obore said in his statement that Akol “had no prior appointment with the Speaker.”
The statement added: “It’s the Prime Minister who had earlier requested a meeting with the Speaker to discuss the Legislative agenda (Bill Processing) and the performance of Ministers.”
Angered by the Parliament’s statement, URA has today Tuesday fired back, saying, “Meeting the Speaker of Parliament, who is a public official, in a public place like Parliament by the Prime Minister in the company of other public officials, whom he requested to do so, is not an irregular matter.”
Banage said, “In fact it is not worth issuing in a press release as the Parliament’s communications arm did. However, we are concerned that the press release chose to not only highlight the visit to a public official in the capacity of the Speaker of Parliament, but additionally misrepresented the facts that preceded the said meeting.”
The 1st Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Moses Ali and the Government Chief Whip Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa met the Speaker in her boardroom at around 4:0pm.
Observers say Akol and officials accused of pocketing the oil bonus are worried of a Parliamentary hearing that could expose anomalies in the disbursement of the large sums of money.
The handshake saga has since attracted public outrage with lawmakers accusing the beneficiaries of conflict of interest.
For example, Akol requested for the Shs 6bn handshake, facilitated the paper work, determined the amount each would receive including her, and also used URA resources to finance the deal.
Banage argued that the government officials were being led by the Prime Minister’s representative to discuss with Kadaga about the anticipated motion before consultations with relevant bodies including URA.
Parliament insisted that the “The Speaker of Parliament had no prior knowledge of the visit of the officials who accompanied the Prime Minister and the Government Chief Whip.”
The Speaker and the Prime Minister discussed parliament business.
When the matter of the now controversial oil bonus payments christened “presidential handshake” came up, the Speaker said the motion prepared by some Members of Parliament would be tabled.
She advised the Minister concerned to prepare to provide MPs with explanations.