Matia Kasaija, minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development may eat his duck after Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga deferred his proposed censure.
Kadaga on Wednesday blocked MPs from further debating on alleged misappropriation of $200m (about Shs720bn) PTA loan until the Auditor General (AG) carries out an independent investigation.
A recent report from Public Accounts Committee (PAC) titled “The Acquisition and Utilization of the USD 200m loan from the Eastern and Southern African trade and Development Bank (PTA)” pinned Kasaija and Secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi for ‘duping’ and ‘fraudulently’ receiving the Shs720bn loan in guise of giving it to NMS for procurement of medical supplies.
According to the PAC report read by chairperson Angelline Osegge (Soroti district),whereas the said loan had been acquired to provide funds for NMS in order to provide the said medical supplies, despite receiving the money, the ministry of Finance did not provide the said funds to NMS.
During her ruling on Wednesday, Kadaga said that there is need to involve AG to conduct a special audit on this loan before parliament proceeds to debate on the PAC report.
“I direct the Auditor General to carry out a special audit the performance and neutralization of $200m loan from parliament acquired from PTA bank and report to parliament before February 20. We shall debate considering the Auditor General’s report together with PAC report and make resolutions. Therefore, I stay debate on this matter until February 28,” Kadaga ruled.
Last year, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga ordered PAC to carry out an investigation into the acquisition and utilization of the $200m loan that had been allegedly misappropriated.
This investigation was prompted by the public outcry that NMS, one of the key beneficiaries of the said funds had not received its portion and therefore could not purchase drugs for health facilities for this Financial Year 2017/18. Whereas the said loan had been acquired to provide funds for NMS in order to provide the said medical supplies, despite receiving the money, the ministry of Finance did not provide the said funds to NMS. It should be remembered that on January 7, 2016, parliament originally rejected the loan proposal, but the ministry of finance changed the objective of the loan emphasizing medical supplies to get approvals required on April 26, 2016.
PAC in its report recommended for the censuring and firing of Kasaija and Muhakanizi respectively for receiving this money by false pretense.
“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.