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URA Defends Oil Cash Bonanza as ‘International Best Practice’

The Commissioner General Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Doris Akol
The Commissioner General Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Doris Akol

    By: Sam Waswa

  • Jan 5,2017
  • 762 Viewed

Uganda Revenue Authority which is currently at the center of an unraveling Shs. 6billion scandal has at last spoken out, defending the sharing of the billions of shillings in oil tax money as a “standard international best practice.”

Following an oil case that went against British oil firm Heritage, compelling them to pay Uganda up to $434 million in capital gains tax, 6 billion of this was split amongst the  players that guided the case to Uganda’s victory, majorly staff members of URA and officials from Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development among others.

In a statement issued today by the tax body, they emphasized that there was a need for the players involved to be rewarded after pulling off the successful court battle that “saw a combined total of USD700m brought into Government of Uganda coffers.”

This is the combination of the $434million won against Heritage in the London arbitration and an earlier $250Million out-of-court settlement from Tullow Oil.

“It is standard international best practice for employees to receive bonus payments/ or honoraria for exemplary performance in both the public and the private sector,” the statement signed by URA’s mouthpiece Sarah Banage.

“Equally under the Ugandan Constitution; the President has a prerogative as a fountain of honor to reward exemplary performance and this has been exhibited in the fields of health, academia, sports to mention a few.”

It is understood that President Yoweri Museveni, following recommendation from the Auditor General and an appeal from URA led by then Commissioner General Allen Kagina, signed off the reward, which has been dubbed as a Presidential Handshake.

URA insists that these payments were made in due regard to the Public Finance Management Act as amended and against no Ugandan law.

“The Commissioner General was duly appointed as an accounting officer to disburse respective payments to designated beneficiaries after deduction of applicable taxes and other statutory deductions. The Auditor General duly issued an audit warrant to authorize spending. In accordance with the accounting officer’s mandate, the designated beneficiaries received their payments.”

In the statement, however, URA sought to distance itself from the list of beneficiaries of the so-called Oil cash bonanza, asserting that some names as seen on the payees’ list now shared widely on social media, were “included erroneously.”

Mrs Banage proceeded to term the oil case as an unprecedented win for the country, and the first of its kind in Africa in the sector of Oil and Gas Taxation.

A number of questions have however been raised on when government started on a commission-based payment to its employees and whether or not this has a legal backing.

While according to Banage, the 6bn paid to the officials represents only 1% of what was raked in from the case, some critics have questioned what precedent this will create across the various government sectors.

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  • Thomas Sankara

    If the payment was done in good faith as they claim, why did they have to do it in utmost secrecy? Why wasn’t it officially announced and done in the full glare of the public? Why was it swept under the carpet and only busted by this website? As Ugandans we deserve full disclosure for accountability purposes. We need to only what exactly was the contribution each one of the 42 beneficiaries to the case? Granted bonuses may be a good international practice but are such payments rationale in a country like ours where many civil are crying out for a decent wage? Where our health and education sectors are in shambles? Just return our money and save yourselves from further embarrassment. Moreover in a country were sanity prevails these individuals will already have tendered their resignations because their integrity is now under question. Why should we trust Akol to handle our revenue after this? We should we still trust Musisi, Kagina and the others after this? But of course in the under the terminally corrupt NRM it is business as usual.

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