By Tabu BUTAGRA, Published in DAILY MONTOR FEB 14TH 2013
The European Union is not resuming aid disbursement until the Uganda government establishes infallible financial controls and punishes its thieving bureaucrats, EU officials in Kampala have said. In a statement yesterday, the EU delegation said Tuesday’s announcement by deputy presidential spokesperson Lindah Nabusayi that they were lifting aid suspension was “incorrect”.
Ms Nabusayi had said EU Ambassador Roberto Ridolfi told President Museveni during a meeting at State House, that “EU-funded programmes can now continue in Uganda as per their approved budget for the next seven years”. “[The] EU is very pleased with the way the Ministry of Finance, the police and the Director of Public Prosecution are fighting corruption, adding that administrative sanctions on civil servants implicated be strengthened,” Ms Nabusayi wrote, quoting Amb. Ridolfi.
The EU terminated direct budget support to Uganda late last year, citing alleged pilfering of at least Shs60 billion by staff at the Office of the Prime Minister. The money was part of what donors contributed to rebuild northern Uganda, scarred by the two-decade Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency.
Yesterday, EU spokesperson Simon Kasyate said whereas Amb. Ridolfi applauded efforts by Finance ministry officials to fast-track implementation of action plan agreed with donors, he said “more action was needed in administrative sanctioning and pursuit of public officers implicated in the recent scandals”.
“In any case,” Mr Kasyate wrote, “implementation [of aid resumption] will be assessed by all partners collectively, once the government of Uganda has completed the action plan and presented its final results for discussion.”
Following protracted negotiations, donors demanded Finance to provide a timeline for refund of pilfered donor cash while the Accountant General was asked to provide records of transfers in the Budget Support, Donor Holding Account and Consolidated Fund dockets over the last 10 years.
Efforts to comply with those pre-conditions is underway, and the government forked out $14m in supplementary budget to repay stolen aid of the Republic of Northern Ireland, Sweden and Norway.
In spite of the reforms, a final decision by the donors on whether or not to unblock aid is not expected until end of the third-quarter of the 2012/13 Financial Year on March 31.
State House, however, remained adamant, insisting its version of discussions between President Museveni and Amb. Ridolfi was the right one. “There is no way I can misquote the Ambassador or the President on an issue like that, Ms Nabusayi noted in a mobile phone text message to this reporter. “That is the brief I got from our diplomatic office and I stand by it.”