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COSASE ponders criminal summons after Finance Minister Kasaija snubs committee

Kasaija did not appear 

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Lawmakers on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises – COSASE were on Thursday morning left upset after the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development Matia Kasaija failed to appear before them for the second time, without giving any reason.

Led by Joel Ssenyonyi, the committee is examining the Auditor General’s Report for FY 2020/2021 relating to irregularities in the sh10.6 billion Supplementary Budget to offset Lusanjja and Ndeeba land compensation claimants.

The controversial compensation to six individuals was undertaken by the Uganda Land Commission – ULC, an entity mandated to document, verify, preserve and maintain land owned or administered by the Government under the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development – MLHUD.

Kasaija was first invited to appear before the Committee on Tuesday May 17th 2022 last week, but he replied requesting the Committee to reschedule the interface to today Thursday May 26th, 2022 saying was engaged with State duties.

Minister Kasaija is wanted to explain his involvement in the release of the 10.6 billion Shillings’ supplementary budget which was not originated by the ULC, contravening the Public Finance Management Act, 2015. He is also to explain why the money was disbursed to only six claimants yet some received double payments while others are not existent.

Speaking to URN, the Committee Chairperson said the Minister did not appear and without any communications to the Committee. Ssenyonyi was upset that it is not the first time Kasaija is snubbing Parliamentary Committee probe, prompting him to issue a criminal summon to compel him to appear before them on Tuesday May 31st 2022 or face arrest.

According to the Auditor General’s report the 10.6 billion Shillings was used to compensate beneficiaries who included Kasiya Rwabukurukuru who received 6.43 billion Shillings for land at Kiyunga in Sheema District, and Stephen Peter Nagenda of Rwanswa in Kibaale who received  1.06 billion Shillings.

The others are Julius Busuulwa who received 1.4 billion Shillings, Natalia Namuli who received 1.6 billion Shillings, Yisaka Lwakana who received 125.3 million Shillings, and Mugisha Geoffrey who received 1.49 billion Shillings for land at Buyaga in Kibaale District.

Meanwhile Pius Wakabi Rujumba, the Bugahya County MP in Hoima disclosed to the Committee that while it was not officially communicated, Kasaija could have flown out of the country to participate at the 2022 annual meeting of the African Development Bank Group in Accra, Ghana.

At the time of the Committee meeting, URN saw a tweet from Kasaija’s official account ‘@MatiaK5’ indicating that he was in Accra, Ghana to participate ‘ in the 2022 annual meeting of AfDB Group’ under the theme, ‘Achieving climate resilience and a just energy transition for Africa.’

Charles Bakabulindi, the Workers’ MP noted that Kasaija is known for contempt of Parliament, arguing that he ought to have written back to the Committee to show courtesy and commitment.

In a recent engagement with MPs, the Civil Society organizations about the oversight function of Parliament and enforcement of public accountability, Prof Joe Oloka Onyango, a Law Don at Makerere University observed that the burden of scandals is overwhelming against Kasaija.

Prof Oloka wondered why Parliament has not moved a motion of displeasure against or censored Kasaija citing his alleged involvement in dubious deals such as the Naguru-Nakawa Land, Uganda Railways Corporation – URC compensation saga, stalled Lubowa Specialized International Hospital project and the recent ‘illegal’ Vinci Uganda Coffee Company Limited agreement.

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URN

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