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Minister-Kasaija Land compensation of Shs10 billion was in error
Kasaija, who had previously failed to appear on two invitations, admitted to making an error when disbursing the funds before the Parliamentary Committee of Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (COSASE). FILE PHOTO

Minister of finance Matia Kasaija admits signing an agreement to release up to sh10.5 billion for compensation of land occupants was an error.

The Ugandan Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija has admitted that his ministry made an error when it signed an agreement to release up to sh10.5 billion for the compensation of land occupants.

While appearing before the Parliamentary Committee of Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (COSASE), Kasaija who had earlier failed to turn up on two invites admitted to having made an error in disbursing the money.

Kasaija’s statement came after COSASE chairperson Joel Ssenyonyi challenged him to explain why the supplementary budget he signed off was requested by the then land minister Beti Kamya, instead of the end-user entity as per the law.

According to Section 25 of the Public Finance Management Act, a supplementary budget can only be requested for by the end-user entity. In this case it was supposed to be the Uganda Land Commission and not the Lands Minister.

In response, however, Kasaija who didn’t want to go into further excuses admitted his ministry was faulted in signing off the money.

“I think it was in error for sure, I can not deny that. My ministry should not have entertained this. They should have said; Hey Land Commission, please put in your request,” Kasaija admitted.

In his words, Ssenyonyi said his committee analysed the Auditor General’s report and realised that even when the money was paid out, it was picked by the Secretary and the Accounting officer of the Land Commission without being approved by the Land Commission boss at the time, Beatrice Nyakayisiki.

Ssenyonyi said that this was also an irregularity.

In response to this, Kasaija said his ministry should not take the blame alone, as he was misled by technical people at the ministry, including the then permanent secretary, Keith Muhakanizi.

“Yes, you see, I can be accused of negligence and I will accept but going by the amount of work a minister has got, you must depend on technical officers,” Kasaija said.

“I cannot go and call for a file to read it from page to page. There is no way I would have done that…” he added.

His admission was, however, criticised by the Mityana Woman MP, also a member of the same committee, Joyce Bagala who questioned why the minister did not take prompt action on his misleaders.

On this, Kasaija said as a minister, he holds no mandate to suck. 

“We can only refer to the judicial service, or if its an appointment, then we can refer to the President, so we can not suck as ministers,” Kasaija defended.