Members of Parliament on the Public Accounts Committee were treated to uncoordinated statements from Ministry of Energy officials who were tasked to explain a compensation-gone-bad of Project Affected Persons in the Albertine Graben.
A team of technocrats under the leadership of the Acting Permanent Secretary Robert Kasande failed to account for Ushs1.2 billion meant for compensating persons affected by the ongoing site preparation for oil exploration.
The officials also admitted to asking locals to sign documents that said they had received their compensation fees, whereas they were not paid at the material time.
“It is true people signed before the payments were made. At first when I heard about it, it was of concern, [but] it was later explained by the consultants that they [Project Affected Persons] had left us with details of accounts,” said Kasande.
MPs expressed alarm at the locals’ signing for compensation they had not received; with Adjumani Woman MP Jesca Ababiku (NRM) reading mischief.
“I believe there was that connivance to receive our people’s money without delivering it to them,” said Ababiku.
The Ministry was tasked to buy up to 7,300 acres of land to compensate the project-affected persons, but a total of Ushs1.2 billion couldn’t be clearly accounted for, raising queries by the Auditor General.
Of the disputed funds, Ushs566 million, the officials claim, were used to relocate graves of dead relatives to the affected persons.
Kasande said the “additional Ushs673 million was spent on Project Affected Persons changing their preferences for compensation.”
MP Mathias Mpuuga (DP, Masaka Municipality), who led the legislators in quizzing the officials, said he was not happy with the “uncoordinated” responses from the officials as the matter awaited the Committee’s decision.
“I can only say that as a lead counsel, I have not got an answer to the first query [on the Ushs1.2 billion],” said Mpuuga.
The Energy officials appeared before PAC to respond to queries that were raised about their undertakings in the Auditor General’s report for the Financial Year 2015/16.