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The massive financial abuse in the Office of the Prime Minister has forced the cabinet to order a financial audit in all ministries and government departments.

Ethics minister Simon Lokodo told a news conference at the Media Centre yesterday that the directive takes immediate effect.

Fr Lokodo explained that the decision to investigate all government ministries and departments was agreed on in cabinet. The move, he added, is meant to root out corruption.

Lokodo said the Auditor General and all ministries and government departments had been informed.

“If such grand corruption can happen in the OPM, how about other ministries?” he wondered. The Auditor General’s office carries out annual financial audits of government departments but this particular exercise seems to be extraordinary.

The special audit comes hot on the heels of two financial scandals, one at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and another in the ministry of Public Service (pension), that have so far claimed many scalps. According to Lokodo, Shs 38.3bn was lost in the OPM scandal alone.

However, not all the Shs 38.3 billion was completely lost, he explained. Some of the money meant for the Peace, Recovery and Development Project (PRDP) was diverted to fund other activities, without proper authorisation. For instance, Shs 1.8 billion was used to procure eight vehicles for seven ministers and the Prime Minister.

Lokodo said Shs 169 billion was lost in the pension scam.

“The country is currently besieged by grand corruption and mismanagement of public funds,” the minister admitted.

Due to the recent corruption cases, several development partners including Ireland, Norway, Britain, Denmark and Sweden have cut or threatened to cut aid to the country. The World Bank on Monday said it was reviewing its development assistance to Uganda.

“The journey is to bring all people suspected of swindling public funds to account,” Lokodo said, stressing that “corruption is worse than terrorism. Terrorism kills few people but how many people die in health centres due to corruption?”

Drastic measures

To save the government’s image, Lokodo said, structural, political, administrative as well as legal measures have been devised to check corruption. Some of these include steps to control donor disbursements through Bank of Uganda and the Treasury.

“All flows will first be remitted to the Consolidated Fund Appropriation Account before the funds are moved to the beneficiary accounts instead of suspense accounts,” he stressed.

Government, Lokodo further explained, is to ensure all dormant project accounts in Bank of Uganda are closed. Government has also undertaken to ensure that bank reconciliations by all accounting officers are done monthly as opposed to quarterly and annual. He said this move will to enable timely detection of fraud.

“The ministry of Public Service has been directed to reconcile and clean up the salary and pension payroll to remove all ghost workers,” Lokodo added.

Payment of pension and salary is to be moved to the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPS) by December 2012 to eliminate diversion of funds from the intended beneficiaries.

Cabinet has come up with a policy of regular rotation of staff, particularly those involved in direct management of public funds like accountants and procurement officers. The reason behind this is that when these officers spend a lot of time in one place, they learn tricks of manipulating systems and swindling funds.

Corruption, Lokodo stressed, can lead to the downfall of government by undermining its legitimacy, weakening its structures, worsening poverty and income inequality and therefore creating social and political unrest. Among other measures, the government plans to ensure that all civil servants declare their wealth and those with questionable wealth get to explain the source.

“We are also going to expedite the Anti Corruption (Amendment) Bill 2012 to enable government attach the property of corrupt government officials,” he said.

The private member’s bill, moved by Makindye East MP John Ssimbwa, seeks to introduce a provision spelling out how the property of a corrupt official can be confiscated.

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+13 #1 Concerned Ugandan 2012-11-16 00:40
This cannot be true because the corruption that would be uncovered by such a commitment would make the OPM scandal seem tame!

It is an open secret that most if not all government departments contribute in one way or the other to the NRM's financial needs as a party especially around election time! Such an effort would surely bring down the NRM once and for all! Lokodo is simply doing what all other cabinet members do best which is to spout hot air!!

There may be a few token investigations here and there but the only way that we can ever get beyond scratching the surface as far as corruption is concerned is when M7 and the NRM no longer hold the reins of power!
+8 #2 BAKINSOKOOLA 2012-11-16 04:08
The office of the president should be the first to be investigated. Before the civil servant declare their wealthy, let the executives be the first to do so.
+13 #3 Kalimbwe Mwanyi 2012-11-16 05:25
Talk of a poacher doing a forensic audit of the game park to ensure that all animals are present in their right numbers!!!!
+7 #4 kabayekka 2012-11-16 06:23
Well then if such mismanagement can bring about the downfall of government why is this government not failing and falling?
+4 #5 rudaku 2012-11-16 09:08
Go on Mr. Lokodo with YOUR comedy show on corruption! U havenot seen the headline reading "Bigirimana is being fought, says Nsibambi", the one we used to know as "Mr. clean", IS Now fighting that the tainted PS remains in office! Why? simply for the PS to do a cover up!
+2 #6 GK 2012-11-16 12:05
This is a waste of time and money!! Where does one start and where does this end? This is a way of massaging the pain that the country is experiencing due to the open stealing of the tax/donors' money.

With time another scandal will pop up this will be forgotten and the cycle/life will continue!!!
+6 #7 Lakwena 2012-11-16 12:44
At this rate of national level theft, it is very humiliating to be a Ugandan. We now can't travel anywhere without people holding their noses and tightening grip on their wallets.

I am sure this is true for president M7, his Ministers and diplomats. The people they call development partners hold their noses whenever they open their mouths to talk about zero tolerance on corruption.

Shame on us!
+2 #8 kiguli 2012-11-16 14:20
please spare us the nosense mr lokodo!!!
+2 #9 Chris 2012-11-16 14:55
Poor Lokodo!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!! For as long as corruption traces its way back to State House all that you are saying is nonsense and waste of the paper's precious space
+3 #10 JULIUS 2012-11-16 17:53

+1 #11 Martin 2012-11-16 17:54
@ Kalimbwe Mwanyi,
You have been watching it right. That is exactly how the game is well played always.
+3 #12 Lule Chris 2012-11-16 18:12
Fr. Lokodo, go back and preach in the church where people simply say "AMEN" and leave things to the will of God! For the corruption levels now, we need more than your kind of preaching!

You are more concerned about the image of the Government than about what this massive corruption has done and is doing to the Ugandan people!Think about how many hospitals, schools, roads, etc we would have if such colossal amounts of money were put to good use.

Think about the Northerners who continue to suffer as a result of this greed! Are you so heartless that all you care about is the cosmetic image of the government? Just applying cosmetics to the skin will not take away the real cause of acne or blackness.You need to address the real issues here.

Or are you just washing the face becoz some visitors (read donors)are coming home? Pliz take charge of your house! Don't only act tough and pretend to swing into action after something gross has happened. You allowed impunity to entrench itself....
+2 #13 Becky 2012-11-16 18:45
Next should be Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), Ministry of Health , Ministry of works and Ministry of Education
+2 #14 Mubiru 2012-11-16 19:24
What type of special auditing and investigations is the REv. talking about? Is there anything knew which the brilliant several critical annual Auditor General's reports has never exposed? None of the reports exposing thieves has ever been implemented. What calibre of people ( professionally, morally and intellectually) are going to investigate?

All people in the system with a rare exception of people like Kasami - the Treasury Chief- are thieves. Unless the law which protects thieves (releasing pension funds suspects on bail who can buy anything include judges when on bail) is changed Uganda is doomed to everlasting suffering.

Please dont waste time and money forming these bogus commissions which only benefit commsissioners who are paid millions for encuraging robbery. If I did not respect religious people like you, I would have cursed you to go to hell for abusing the intelligence of poor suffering Ugandans.
+1 #15 kabayekka 2012-11-16 23:53
Seriously speaking Honorable Minister, are you sure that these Ministries have not been running without any financial audit being done to them? And for how long my dear? Can the Auditor General tell us more about this oversight?
+1 #16 tom mugerwa 2012-11-18 02:53
this is a very intresting development and i cant wait to see how investigations will be in the ministry of defence
+1 #17 kizito 2012-11-18 08:34
State house first. m7 is the king of thugs
+2 #18 concerned citizen 2012-11-18 16:27
it is really disappointing to be Ugandan. mulago runs out of oxygen for a week!, the ICU in the very hospital shut down because of old or even non-existent machines which cant allow it to function! that means if u have a wife going to give birth, she wouldnt make it due to luck of the vital facilites.

to me, it think, the NRM government has failed and if we r to curb theft, we need to remove it from power!
+1 #19 Betty Long Cap 2012-11-18 18:10
Quoting concerned citizen:
... the NRM government has failed and if we r to curb theft, we need to remove it from power!

THE DICTATOR is incorrigible. His appetites cannot be curbed.

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