NRM MPs have turned their backs on their own Matia Kasaija, minister for Finance, Panning and Economic Development over the alleged misappropriation of over $200m (about Shs720bn) loan that was meant for National Medical Stores (NMS) to procure medical supplies.
During the NRM caucus meeting that was convened by Ruth Nankabirwa, Government Chief Whip on Tuesday, minister Kasaija pleaded with the caucus to support his pending defence statement on the current investigations that he along with his Permanent Secretary Keith Muhakanizi duped parliament to borrow $200m and did not release it to NMS-the intended beneficiary.
According to sources who attended the meeting, the NRM MPs assured Kasaija that they will not tolerate any corruption and that he should carry his cross and expect no favours from them when he presents his statement when parliament resumes on January 30. Amidst resistance, the caucus agreed to put a select committee to ‘investigate’ the report before plenary resumes.
Last Wednesday, chairperson of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Angelline Ossegge (Soroti Woman MP) tabled a report titled “The Acquisition and Utilization of the USD 200m loan from the PTA” that recommended that Kasaija and the Secretary to the Treasury Muhakanizi should be censured and sacked respectively for fraudulently receiving the Shs720bn loan in guise of giving it to NMS for procurement of medical supplies.
“For misleading the House to believe that the most critical funding objective was medical supplies, lying to parliament in writing that NMS had never provided the needed supply contracts to enable disbursement of funds and further duping parliament by re-packaging the same loan thus obtaining money by false pretence, the minister of finance should be censured,” the report says.
The report adds, “for lying to parliament and for superimposing his authority portrayed by insisting on the loan acquisition against strong advice in writing by the Governor, Bank of Uganda, the Accountant General and the Director of Economic Affairs, Finance ministry and superintending the gross diversion of public funds, the PS/ST (Muhakanizi) should be relieved of his office.”
On Tuesday, Muhakanizi told media at his office that he is not about to be sacked over the PTA loan because he publicly accounted for the said monies.
“You (Media) are saying that I am about to be sacked because of the PTA Bank loan. I can assure you I have a contract; I will serve it up to the end. Take it from me because I accounted publicly in the papers for all the resources,” Muhakanizi said.
He added, “That money was borrowed legally, passed by Parliament legally, released as per appropriation of Parliament to all the entities and therefore, I am as clean as I can be. So all those who have speculated that I am about to go, I am here. It is just wastage of your time, just concentrate on what you are doing. I am here as secretary of Treasury for some time.”