Government recalls diplomats recorded sharing unspent cash at embassy in Denmark

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Government has recalled diplomatic staff at the Ugandan embassy in Denmark who were captured in an audio recording sharing unspent money during the 2019/20 financial year.

Section 17 (2) of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), 2005 stipulates that at the end of each financial year, each government institution is required to return all unspent balances to the Consolidated Fund.

However, in the clip making rounds on social media, diplomats including the Head of Mission, Nimisha Madhvani, the Deputy Head of Mission, Elly Kamahungye Kafeero and two other staff members are heard discuss how they can share the unspent money by the embassy.

They group is heard suggesting that the money be referred to as per diem and not Safari or travel allowances.

Each officer at the level of ambassador is entitled to $390(shs1.4m) as per diem per day whereas junior officers are supposed to get shs1.3m($360) per day and going by the revelation in the audio clip, each ambassador got shs 11.4 million whereas each junior staff got shs8 million.

In a statement released on Monday, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb.Patrick Mugoya confirmed the audio clip and noted that investigations into it have kicked off.

“The Ministry in consultation with the Secretary to the Treasury and the Auditor General will carry out a thorough investigation into this matter. In the meantime, the officers implicated have been recalled to the ministry headquarters to pave way for investigations,”Mugoya said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary explained that the outcome of the investigation will inform them of the next course of action but noted that government regrets the actions of its staff at the embassy in Copenhagen.

“The ministry wishes to reiterate to the general public that it does not condone corruption and that the use of public funds will adhere to the principles of transparency and efficiency and any deviation by any offer will be met with an appropriate sanction as provided for in the Public Finance and Management Act and Regulations.”

According to the Daily Monitor, the zoom meeting came after the Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary, Keith Muhakanizi stopped the officials at the embassy in Denmark from sharing the unspent money despite the mission having been closed earlier.

In the audio clip from a zoom meeting, a male voice is heard assuring colleagues that the matter can be swept under the carpet by bribing the accounting officer so he doesn't say a thing.

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