Government has received 30 million Pounds (close to UShs 130bn) from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) under a new programme, Strengthening Uganda’s Anti-Corruption and Accountability Regime (SUGAR).
The British High Commissioner to Uganda, Alison Blackburne said the five-year programme to be launched at Sheraton Hotel on Monday (Sept. 22) would support accountability initiatives and address corruption in the country.
She was briefing Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi on the new programme at his office on Thursday. Alex Stephens, DFID’s governance advisor and the Head of Governance Security and Humanitarian Affairs, Geraldine O’Callaghan accompanied her.
“SUGAR will focus on tackling corruption in the public sector, aiming to raise the risks for those engaged in corrupt behavior, and ensuring they are administratively and criminally sanctioned and their assets confiscated,” she said.
“You have kindly indicated your interest in and support for anticorruption programmes on a number of occasions,” Blackburne told Prime Minister Mbabazi, adding that SUGAR would be implemented in form of short and long term technical assistance and retooling.
Mbabazi expressed gratefulness at the programme, saying it would boost government efforts to stamp out corruption which is said to be systemic, institutionalized and a major obstacle to good governance and accountability at national, district and community levels.
Blackburne explained that the bulk of the DFID funding under the two-component SUGAR programme would be channeled to the national anti-corruption chain, for priorities identified by the accountability institutions.
Beneficiaries include the Office of the Auditor General, Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, Public Service Commission and the Police Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Department. Others are the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, the newly created Financial Intelligence Authority and the High Court’s Anti-Corruption Division.
“The aim of this component will be to strengthen these organizations to work together on issues such as administrative sanctions, criminal investigations and court cases,” Blackburne said.
The second component, she explained, would focus on local government accountability. She said the US government had also offered to support the initiatives but did not specify the nature of support.
She commended the government for containing inflation and ensuring macro-economic stability, saying as a result several British companies want to invest in Uganda. She noted, however, that the economy was not resilient enough to competitiveness.
While the Government has implemented reforms on many fronts, including efforts to attack corruption in the public sector, the country is still categorized by the international business community as one of the most corrupt.
DFID has been assisting the Government to address the vice in the public sector, such as helping to stop payments to at least 9,000 ghost workers, which have led to savings of up to six million pounds (close to UShs 26bn) per year since the 2005/06 financial year.
In most programmes of DFID’s 28 partner countries, a significant contribution is made to supporting reform of public financial management. Currently DFID directly supports strengthening national audit offices in Vietnam, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda.