MPs have warned ministry of Finance permanent secretary Keith Muhakanizi to back off parliament and wait for auditor general's report on the controversial $200m (Shs 715 billion) Preferential Trade Area (PTA) loan.
The MPs accuse ministry of Finance of obtaining the loan by 'by false pretense', but in an interview with Daily Monitor, Muhakanizi branded the MPs as ignorant and biased with a conspiracy.
Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last year investigated the utilisation and disbursement of the PTA loan, in which Finance is accused of failing to disburse the money to the intended beneficiaries even after the PTA bank released the money.
The loan proposal had originally been rejected by parliament on January 7, 2016, but ministry of Finance reportedly changed the objective of the loan, emphasizing medical supplies to get the required parliamentary approval on April 26, 2016.
Despite the loan approval and acquisition, National Medical Stores (NMS) to date is yet to get the Shs 156 billion from the loan to purchase drugs.
The loan was among other issues to ease finance expenditure pressure, resulting from the exchange rate depreciation in financial year 2015/2016.
In its report to the House recently, PAC recommended that Muhakanizi be relieved of his duties and Finance minister Matia Kasaija be censored following their involvement in processing the said loan.
However speaker Rebecca Kadaga resolved that the auditor general first audits the PTA loan before debate takes place in the House.
At a press conference addressed by PAC members led by Angeline Ossegge at parliament, legislators warned Muhakanizi against what they believe is contempt of the House.
“We are surprised at the ignorance, behaviour and largely arrogance that even before we see what’s in auditor general’s report, we see them abusing parliament,” PAC vice chairperson Gerald Karuhanga said.
“It’s sad but Mr Muhakanizi must realize that no amount of abuse or disregard of parliament is going to deter us [MPs] from interrogating the ministry of Finance just like all other agencies of government that report to PAC,” he added.
The MPs argue that if Kasaija and Muhakanizi had listened to Bank of Uganda governor Emmanuel Mutebile’s advice not to go for an interest loan, Uganda would be saved of interest to a tune of Shs 81 billion.
Uganda will be required to pay an extra Shs 81 billion because of the responsible officers’ (Kasaija and Muhakaniza) insistence on borrowing non-interest free money.
The auditor general is expected to investigate the issue and deliver a report to the house this month before parliament can decide on the fate of Muhakanizi and that of minister Kasaija.