Minister Kasaija admits Shs 10.6 billon was paid in error to Uganda Land Commission

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Finance Minister Matia Kasaija has admitted that the Shs 10.5 billion that was released to compensate land claimants was done in error.

The minister finally appeared before the Parliamentary Committee of Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (COSASE) after snubbing the engagement on two separate occasions.

COSASE chairperson Joel Ssenyonyi tasked Kasaija to explain why the supplementary budget he signed off was requested by the then lands minister Beti Kamya, instead of the end user entity as per the law.

Section 25 of the Public Finance Management Act states that a supplementary budget will be requested for by the end user entity (which is the Uganda Land Commission in this instance).

In his response, Kasaija ran out of excuses, and admitted that the money was indeed released in error.

“I think it was in error for sure, I can not deny that. My ministry should not have entertained this. They should have said; Hey Land Commission, please put in your request,” Kasaija admitted.

According to Ssenyonyi, his committee analysed the Auditor General’s report and realised that even when the money was paid out, it was picked by the Secretary and the Accounting officer of the Land Commission without being approved by the Land Commission boss at the time, Beatrice Nyakayisiki.

Ssenyonyi said that this was also an irregularity.

Kasaija in his comments said that he should not take the blame alone, as he was misled by technical people at the ministry, including the then permanent secretary, Keith Muhakanizi.

“Yes, you see, I can be accused of negligence and I will accept but going by the amount of work a minister has got, you must depend on tech officers,” Kasaija said.

“I cannot go and call for a file to read it from page to page. There is no way I would have done that…” he added.

Mityana Woman MP, also a member of the same committee, Joyce Bagala, asked Kasaija why he did not take action when he realised that the money was paid out in error.

Kasaija, in his defence argued that he has no authority to suck as a minister.

“We can only refer to the judicial service, or if its an appointment, then we can refer to the President, so we can not suck as ministers..,” Kasaija said.

COSASE is currently investigating the controversial Shs 10.6 billion supplementary that was queried by the Auditor General in his June 30, 2021 report.

The Auditor General said that this supplementary budget was irregularly awarded to the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) on Beti Kamya’s orders when she was still the Minister of Lands.

The report also shows that six of the claimants were non-existent.

COSASE has now summoned Keith Muhakanizi and the said technical people to present themselves to the committee.

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