Stanbic Bank
Stanbic Bank
Stanbic Bank
Stanbic Bank
20.7 C
Kampala
Stanbic Bank
Stanbic Bank
Stanbic Bank
Stanbic Bank

MPs accuse PS Geraldine Ssali of attempting to impeach Committee and Parliament powers on cooperative money

Must read

Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has halted the consideration of the December 2023 Auditor General’s report about the Ministry of Trade’s after Geraldine Ssali, the Permanent Secretary, accused the Auditor General of authoring a biased report.

During the audit exercise, the Auditor General accused ministry officials of refusing to hand over documents about the accountability for cooperatives’ compensation funds.

Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala County) accused the Ministry of Trade PS, who appeared before PAC on Monday, of trying to impeach the powers of both the committee and Parliament when she questioned the authenticity of the Auditor General’s report.

He wondered why Ssali did not seek a legal opinion from the Attorney General on addressing her concerns on the report and instead opted to use desk office lawyers.

Muwanga said: “I would be the last person to consider a response where an Accounting Officer is attempting to impeach the powers of the Committee and Parliament on matters of approval. Is it your legal person who did this? You have the Attorney General and he is the same for Parliament and if you wanted the Attorney General’s opinion, you should have written to him, expressed your concerns, sought his opinion, and got his opinion to us. Did you get the opinion of the Attorney General on this interpretation?”

However, Ssali denied accusations of attempting to impeach powers of Parliament.

Ssali said, “I don’t even want to use the word impeachment because I remember how that word was over used in the US, it was alien to me, it isn’t anything that we intended to impeach powers of Parliament in anyway and it isn’t possible that we can do that. If our submissions came out in any way to suggest that, insinuate we apologize for that.”

Ssali also accused the Attorney General, Kiryowa Kiwanuka of ignoring her two requests for legal interpretation on how the Ministry of Trade should proceed with Cooperatives and how her ministry was meant to disburse money to third parties, saying the two times she sought an opinion, she never got a written response.

“I didn’t think it was fair for the Auditor General to say that records of the cooperative unions were missing and I think there was a miscommunication between my office and Auditor General office but at that time when records were requested, of the 8 cooperatives were requested, they were given,” said Ssali.

Parliament was reviewing the Auditor General’s report about the Ministry of Trade for the period ending December 2023.

The parliamentary committee on trade in its report recommended that Ms Ssali be further investigated and prosecuted after making several findings against her husband, Mr Victor Busuulwa, who is accused of having irregularly received some of the money advanced to a cooperative on behalf of his wife.

The committee investigated an August 25 directive by House Speaker Anita Among. The directive was to “conduct an inquiry into the status, governance, resourcing, and value for money for public funds allocated to Cooperatives during the period of Financial Year 2011/12 to 2022/23.”

In the letter, the Speaker raised concerns that there were queries regarding the budgetary allocations and disbursements to various cooperatives. The queries raised red flags about whether public funds were indeed disbursed to beneficiary cooperatives and utilised for their intended objectives. The Committee conducted visits and public hearings to selected cooperative societies in various regions of Uganda.

On November 25, for example, more than Shs1.7 billion was paid to Masaka Diocesan Treasury on behalf of Bwavumpologoma Growers Cooperative Union Limited. The Cooperative Union received its Registration Certificate on March 4, 2022, yet the parallel verification committee was instituted on March 21, 2022, a clear indication that Bwavumpologoma Growers Cooperative Union Limited was paid prior to its re-registration and verification.

The committee found that since its re-registration, Bwavumpologoma Growers Cooperative Union Limited did not follow the prescribed procedures laid down in Section 4 of the Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Act, 2020. Its re-registration was therefore deemed irregular.

Ms Ssali, according to the committee, used her position as permanent secretary to influence payment to Bwavumpologoma Growers Cooperative Union Limited after she was appointed the Permanent Secretary in the same Ministry.

The committee established that the re-registration of Bwavumpologoma Growers Cooperative Union Limited was irregular since it was handled by Ms Ssali in her own private capacity and having vested interests in its revival.

The committee found that there were several substantial withdrawals from the bank accounts of Bwavumpologoma without corresponding requisitions.

On May 16, 2021, for example, Bwavumpologoma deposited on an account held by Wilson Kasule Martin Shs350m and on the same day he withdrew the same amount.  That very day, Shs300m was deposited in Mr Busuulwa’s account in Centenary Bank Kabalagala Branch. Mr Busulwa is Ms Ssali’s husband.

- Advertisement -

More articles

- Advertisement -

Latest article

- Advertisement -