Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda Land Commission-ULC officials on Tuesday found a hard time to account for over Shillings 43.5billion spent on several land compensation issues in the financial year 2016/2017.
The ULC officials had appeared before the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) to respond to audit queries raised by the Auditor-General in the financial year under review.
In his report, the Auditor General noted that the Commission disbursed Shillings 29.1billion on compensation without carrying out the pre-acquisition inspection to ascertain the evidence and extent of occupancy on the applicant’s land in Kibaale district.
The audit also considered payments worth Shillings 2.44billion in Kibaale district as ineligible since the government only compensated land that was allocated during the 1900 agreements.
“Any current titles acquired thereafter are not eligible. “Compensation of ineligible claimants denies funds for bonafide beneficiaries, some of whom have taken many years without being paid,” reads part of the audit report.
The report also revealed the payment of Shillings 3.46billion in excess on compensations contrary to what the valuation and survey reports prepared by the Chief Government Valuer had recommended for payments.
“Audit noted that in some cases, management paid for 100% of the land despite the recommendations in the survey and valuation reports. This occasions financial loss to Government,” further reads the report. The report also highlighted land worth Shillings 8.5billion that had not yet been registered or transferred to ULC.
Compensation guidelines require the transfer of titles in the names of ULC after payment. Failure to do so leaves the ownership of the land in doubt and exposes it to the theft of titles. In her response, Barbara Amario, the ULC Secretary, said that they stopped payment immediately after detecting the anomalies.
Amario acknowledged concerns in the audit report, saying that they would in future carry out pre-acquisition registration. About the excess payments made by the Commission, Amario told the committee that the payment was based on the value of land by the Chief Government Valuer, whose assessment she said is not necessarily based on the percentage of occupation.
Michael Mawanda, the Igara East MP demanded documentary evidence to support the payments, saying that COSASE is an evidence-based accountability committee. However, Amario told MPs that the Commission had challenges keeping documents.
“We really have problems with documentation. But we are trying to improve on how things are done,” she said. The MPs objected to her submission, saying that they needed accountability for funds allocated by Parliament.
The committee chaired by Kawempe South MP, Mubarak Munyagwa directed the officials to return on Tuesday next week with proper accountability.