URA officials sent away over inconsistent responses
Officials from the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) were dismissed from a meeting with the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (COSASE) for failure to provide consistent responses to queries.
During the committee meeting on Wednesday, 12 July 2023, the officials, led by Commissioner General, John Rujoki Musinguzi, were questioned regarding the Auditor General's report on the authority's financial statements for the fiscal year ending 30 June 2022.
COSASE Chairperson Hon. Joel Ssenyonyi, expressed frustration over the inconsistent statements provided by the URA officials and promptly dismissed them, instructing them to return with more accurate information.
The dismissal came as COSASE scrutinised irregularities in the authority’s land procurement process, including instances of direct procurement without proper approvals, acquisition of land without confirmation of funding and failure to obtain necessary clearances from the Attorney General.
According to the report, the URA acquired 1.563 hectares of land at a cost of Shs443.9 million between 2018 and 2022 using direct procurement, which violated the provisions of the PPDA Act, 2003.
Another 0.847 hectares of land was acquired for Shs177.98 million without confirmation of funding, contravening Section 59(2) of the same Act.
Additionally, a piece of land measuring 0.716 hectares was purchased for Shs265.96 million without obtaining the necessary clearance from the Attorney General, as required by the Constitution of Uganda.
When given the opportunity to provide details of the land purchases, the Commissioner for Corporate Services, Richard Karisa, listed 0.3760 hectares in Mirama Hills in Ntungamo District, 0.716 hectares in Busunga, Bundibugyo District, and 0.4720 hectares in Bunagana in Kisoro bought for Shs443 million.
Kasilo County Member of Parliament, Hon. Elijah Okupa, asked Karisa to confirm the hectares and price of purchase stating that the information they had earlier indicated different figures.
"He should give us the figures again because what he is presenting now is different from what we had," he said.
It was then that Karisa said that in Busunga they bought land measuring 0.3750 hectares before being corrected and stating that it is 0.716 hectares.
When asked to state the correct hectares of Ntungamo District land, Karisa said that it was 0.3750 hectares contrary to what he had read earlier.
Ssenyonyi asked the team from URA to get organized, stating that they were failing to provide the district, the size of the land, and the price it was bought for.
"Let your figures be consistent because each time we ask you, you give a different figure; you are confusing us," he said.
Upon failing to provide clarity, the chairperson dismissed the URA team to return on Thursday when organised.