The Presidential Handshake report doesn’t say much, but it was a clear “error” by Museveni!
I finally got the whole COSASE report of the Presidential Handshake, what has been reported on my blog or page, has been comments of it. This time it would be direct quotes from the report that was put forward in Parliament from the Parliamentary Committee. That the President had an “error” was been weak, the whole ordeal was a bribe and the Committee didn’t have the courage to say so. Even as the position of every one was spelled out in the Report. Every single person paid out bribe was spelled out and the whole part of the allocation was broth to the daylight. Not that the insights was saying much new. But it still, shows how the President is controlling the Parliament and the use of funds. Since he was shocked of certain acts and that he was making it bonafide, but it wasn’t so. This story has been written back- and fourth.
Before more comments, let’s look at quotes from the report!
“The Committee was informed by the management team of URA led by the Commissioner General that before the final arbitration ruling, the Uganda Government team briefed Cabinet on the 19th of November 2014 on the progress of the HOGL arbitration and H.E. the President promised to reward the team if they won the case” (…) “The Final Award on the merits of the arbitration was delivered on the 24th February, 2015 wherein the full panel of three Arbiters agreed in favour of Uganda Government and dismissed the entire claim of HOGL and awarded USD 4,083,840 in cost. The then Attorney General Hon. Fred Ruhindi on the 13th April 2015 (App. B1) wrote to H.E. the President reminding him of his promise to reward the team and requested him to consider a reward for noble team. He also attached a list of 24 proposed beneficiary” (…) “The Committee was informed that the Attorney General further led the Government team to meet H.E. the President at his country home in Rwakitura on the 17th May 2015 where the victory in the Heritage arbitration case was among other things discussed. That the H.E. The President thanked the team and directed the Commissioner General of URA to propose an appropriate reward for the team. H.E. The President also guided that the other Public Officers who had tremendously Contributed to the success of the case but had not been included on the first list generated by the Attorney General be included too” (COSASE, P: 8-9. 2017).
“As a follow up to the H.E. the President’s letter of 16th November, 2015, the Commissioner General of URA wrote to the Permanent Secretary/Secretary to Treasury (PS/TS) in a letter dated 11th December, 2015 (App. B6) requesting him to formally designate her as accounting Officer through whom the reward would be paid and to formally requisition for the UGX 6,000,000,000 (Uganda Shillings Six Billions Only)” (…) “The Commissioner General, as advised and in a letter dated 5th May 2016 (App. B8) sought authority from the Hon. Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to reallocate UGX. 6 Billion (Uganda Shillings Six Billion Only) from URA Tax Refund Account to URA Expenditure Account so that the 42 Public Officers could be paid and suggested that a supplementary to URA for that amount to be considered and handled by the Hon. Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. The Hon. Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development did not grant this authority. However, by letter dated 19th October, 2016 (App. B10) he requested the Auditor General to issue an audit warrant for UGX 6 Billion” (COSASE, P: 10-11, 2017).
“The Committee reviewed the budget for Financial Year 2016/2017, which was approved by the Board and subsequently appropriated by Parliament for URA activities and the UGX 6 Billion “handshake” was not budget for. The Committee further received evidence from the Board of URA to the effect that such money had not been provided for and they were hearing of that expenditure for the first time” (COSASE, P: 29, 2017).
“The Committee observers therefore:
1. That it is true that USD 157 Million, which would have accrued as part of the Capital Gain Tax, was waived.
2. The contention arose out of a clause in the PSA which provided for waiver of tax signed by the then minister Hon. Syda Bbumba.
3. That the dispute would not have arisen if the PSA did not have a waiver of tax.
4. The then Ministry of Energy, Hon. Syda Bbumba, did not have authority to waive tax in that transaction and her auction of not having read the agreement before signing was irregular.
5. All the then Ministry of Energy who signed PSAs with similar clause acted ultra vires the law” (COSASE, P: 44, 2017).
“This “handshake” expenditure was not budgeted URA activity and therefore, a diversion of the UGX 6 Billion without lawful authority was contrary to the PFMA” (…) “H.E. The President’s approval of this “handshake” was bonafide. However, it was an error of judgement” (…) “That all funds paid out of URA account to the beneficiaries of the “handshake” should be refunded” (…) “The Executive should come up with a Bill within 90 days to regulate and streamline the Presidential Donations Budget” (COSASE, P: 45, 2017).
The Presidential Handshake has clearly showed the proof of how a visit at the Presidents farm in 2015 can lead-up to. President Museveni offered honorarium and bonuses to all the staff in the Tullow/Heritage Oil Tax Case, so all their work would benefit them. Without having it in budgets, without any votes or any sort of procedural activity, therefore it was an illegal allocation. That the Uganda Revenue Authority did allocations without proper actions, that the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and Ministry of Energy all actors did wrong in this scenario. They misused the tax to their own benefit and the President allowed it to happen. Therefore, it is weird that the only thing the Committee concludes with a new legislation to stop it. Secondly, also refunds of the benefits for the civil servants and the NRM cronies. That the act was done without lawful authority, but that was well-known and not rocket science. IT was clear misuse of government funds to give someone an extra payday, which wasn’t allocated or had the proper legal stamp. Therefore, a clear bribe… not solicited funds which the state should pay their civil servants. Peace.
The Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and the State Enterprises (Cosase) – ‘Report of the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and the State Enterprises (COSASE) on the Investigations into the Circumstances under which the reward of UGX 6 BN was given to 42 Public Officers who participated in the Heritage Oil and Gas Arbitration Case’ (May, 2017)