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Finance officials accused of creating ‘ghosts’ to benefit from US$42 compensation

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A list of traders meant to receive US$42 million compensation over losses incurred due to the civil unrest in South Sudan has put officials of the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development and those from the Ministry of Trade at loggerheads, with the former accused of creating ‘ghosts’ to benefit from the initiative.

The rift came to light during a meeting held between legislators on the Committee Trade and Tourism and officials from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives led by Minister Amelia Kyambadde, who said a verification list submitted to the ministries of finance and foreign affairs was fraudulently altered to include non-traders.

Kyambadde explained that the compensation figure had been put at US$42 million, approximately Shs152, 490, 580, 899.

“The President (Museveni) came up with that directive and David Bahati, State Minister for Planning said the Ministry of Finance is going to pay, but there was also a problem of manipulation of that list which I don’t want to go into here and it was manipulated from that end, so if they are going to pay, we also have to make sure that we have the same list,” Kyambadde told the MPs who were scrutinizing the Budget Framework paper of 2018/2019 for the trade ministry.

It should be recalled that following the on and off unrest in South Sudan that started in 2013, President Museveni directed the Ministry of Finance in March 22, 2016 letter, to establish how government would raise money to rescue the businessmen, as Government continued with efforts to recover the money from the South Sudan.

Kyambadde’s revelation prompted MPs Alex Ruhunda of Fort Portal Municipality and Godfrey Macho of Busia Municipality to demand the list to be made public.

It was Macho who reported that the Ministry of Finance had replaced traders with top politicians and threatened to expose the officials.

“The information I have is that Ministry of Finance has smuggled some traders who aren’t supposed to be on that list and I hear they are politicians,” Macho said.

He added: “As a Committee, we must know the interest before because we have talked many times that there are some smuggled companies that haven’t been doing business in South Sudan that is why Ministry of Finance isn’t straight on that matter. In fact Minister when you meet the President, tell him that the Ministry of Finance is playing tricks. If they disturb you, bring them here, we shall expose them.”

A meeting between the two Ministries and Legislators is slated to be held on Tuesday next week to discuss the matter.

 

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