By Stella Obel Negesa
Published: 10th December 2015
Yesterday, December 9, Uganda joined the rest of the world to commemorate the International Anti-Corruption Day. In Uganda, the Anti-Corruption Day is a culmination of a national anti-corruption week that commenced on December 2.
The civil society theme on, “Say No to Vote selling and buying” could not be timelier than yesterday.
Corruption has led to diversion of scarce public resources to private projects, at the expense of much needed public services including schools, hospitals, roads and clean water. Corruption therefore hurts the economy and aggravates the impoverishment of citizens, especially the poor and marginalised.
Tororo Anti-Corruption Coalition (TAC) routinely engages in community based monitoring of utilization of public resources intended for implementation of government programs, and social services in Tororo district. During the course of community monitoring, numerous incidences of corruption have been unearthed, which are detrimental to improvement of the quality of life of the poor.
For example on 1st December when TAC Monitors visited Tororo District Local Government Referral Hospital and established that mothers’ Mama Kits which are supposed to be given out free of charge to expectant mothers, were being sold at varied costs ranging between shs. 5,000 to Shs.30,000, depending on the status of an expectant mother.
Extortion of money from mothers, commonly practiced in most Health Centre IIIs and IVs, coupled with charges on mothers per delivery, has discouraged many mothers from seeking medical services from these facilities, who instead resort to unsafe delivery in their homes, resulting into high maternal mortality rate.
Another case followed up by community monitors in 2015 involved one, Odoi Alfred Peter who obtained goods by false pretense contrary to section 305 of Penal Code Act. He was taken to Court in Tororo and remanded in Morukatipe Government Prison Case.
On 31st March, he appeared before the Grade One Magistrate and applied for Court bail, and the condition he was given was that he pays the trial Magistrate sh2m which he then paid through the Court Clerk. However instead of being given Court bail, he was granted Bail Bond for his release. In September 2015, during a consultative dialogue with stakeholders by the Chief Justice to ascertain how administration of justice is dispensed in Courts of law within the Chief Magistrate’s jurisdiction, Odoi raised this case with the Chief Justice who promised to follow up the matter.
Still, another scenario was in Magola Sub-County, Tororo, during a training conducted for local Community members under the Operation Wealth Creation program, Community Members were told to apply for coffee seedlings enough to cover one and more acres, estimated to be 68 seedlings.
Shortly thereafter, when the seedlings were brought, the community members who applied for the coffee seedlings were instead given seedlings ranging from 10 - 50 seedlings. The delivery was contrary to the information passed on during the training. No explanations were given to communities about the variance in the delivery of coffee seedlings, much to their disgruntlement and confusion.
As we commemorate the International Anti-corruption Day this week, it is crucial to note that if government programs and service delivery projects are to have the desired impact in transforming the livelihoods of the rural folk, citizens need to be continually empowered to reject corrupt tendencies and practices in their communities, and hold their leaders accountable at both local and national levels.
The writer is the coordinator of Tororo Anti-Corruption Coalition and board member of Uganda Debt Network
By Adellah Agaba
Published: 9th December 2015
Corruption is the behaviour on the part of officials in the public sector, whether politicians or civil servants, in which they improperly and unlawfully enrich themselves, or those close to them, by the misuse of the public power entrusted to them. This would include embezzlement of funds, theft of corporate or public property as well as corrupt practices such as bribery, extortion or influence peddling. The political pronouncements notwithstanding, corruption continues to present one of the biggest impediments to development in Uganda.
Key Government Officials during the Anti-Corruption Week launch: Inspector General of Government Mrs. Irene Mulyagonja, 3rd Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Kirunda Kivejinja and Auditor General Mr. John Muwanga.
Corruption in Uganda is said to be systemic and institutionalized. It is further observed that corruption and poor accountability is evident at all levels of governance. This is evident in instances like flouting of public procurement regulations; exercising undue influence in recruitment and promotions; bribery; misuse of funds; buying votes; forging academic papers, among others. Corruption has continued to flourish in every sector of society and the public is becoming immune to this evil to an extent of tolerating it while, oftentimes, the corrupt are admired. This has greatly contributed to the breakdown of the ethical values system of the society. It is not for the lack of strategies, laws or institutions that corruption has thrived; it is rather the lack of political will and commitment to the full implementation of the laws and policies.
UDN Staff during the launch of the Anti-Corruption Week in Kampala.
The participation of civil society in the fight against corruption remains relevant and CSOs have begun to organize themselves into inclusive and all-embracing nation-wide campaigns aimed at boosting their energies in the fight against corruption. The role of Parliament as the overall oversight institution of the State - in establishing ethics and integrity in public office and as the front-runner in demanding for accountability, open and transparent governance and in its ability to check excessive power of the State while representing the interests of the electorate - cannot be underestimated.
It is our duty to fight corruption together.
Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development is seeking parliament approval to amend the Public Finance Management Act, 2015 (PFMA), which has shuttered hopes on promoting prudent public finance management in Uganda. The Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Matia Kasaija, on 30th September 2015 tabled in Parliament amendments to the Public Finance Management Act, 2015 among others seeking to give Government the leeway to access funds from the Central Bank without prior approval of Parliament.
Uganda Debt Network (UDN) together with other civil society actors under the umbrella of Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) made a call to Parliament to reject amendments to the Public Finance Management Act, 2015 during a press conference held by the Civil Society actors in Kampala. Whereas it would be justified to amend any law, the amendments contained in the Minister’s submission should be vetoed. The PFMA, 2015 as it is, is strong on checks and balances, legislative oversight as well as gender and equity. The proposed amendments are now contrary to keeping prudent Finance Management principles in Uganda.
Civil Society Concerns
Some of the Amendments Government is proposing for such as:
Section 9 of the Public Finance Management Act, Government is proposing to substitute the word “Accounting Officer” with “Sector‟ and “vote‟ with “sector‟. The major concern is that by choosing to replace Accounting Officer‟ with “Sector”, it becomes difficult for the public to hold public officers accountable. We believe there is it’s impossible to holding a ministry accountable instead of its permanent secretary or minister. Such an amendment protects accounting officers from being held accountable for misusing public resources.
Section 13,(15)(g): By having the Certificate of Gender and Equity in the public finance law, Uganda had been rated at about 78 in terms of integrating gender in planning and budgeting. However with this proposed amendment to repeal the Certificate of Gender and Equity, the country is likely to lose this rating considering Uganda was the first country in the world to have gender clause in Public Finance Management laws. Certificate for Gender and Equity responsiveness is very critical if the country is to attain gender responsive and sustainable development. The current section in the law was a compromise position and such government needs time to test this process.
Section 17 of the Principal Act if amended proposes that if a vote does not to utilize money of a given financial year shall by the end of the 31st July of the following financial year, authorization may be sought from the Permanent Secretary/Secretary to the Treasury to retain that money by up to 31st October of the financial year. This amendment undermines the power of Parliament and may encourage misuse of public funds.
Section 36 proposes that Government can acquire any loan that does not extend beyond a financial year without Parliament approval. This move undermines the role of Parliament to approve all loans as provided for in constitution of Uganda. In the amendment for Section 22 of the PFMA, we are against the proposal to widen the scope of a virement to be more than 10% of the vote is a gross deviation and may perpetuate financial indiscipline.
Section 82 seeks to give Bank of Uganda power to make temporary advances to government and local governments in respect to temporally shortages of the recurrent revenue, without approval of parliament. This proposal undermines the role of Parliament to approve all loans but allows Bank of Uganda to print money for fiscal use which is an undesirable PFM move.