Shs2.8 bn payout to war debt claimants bounces over dormant accounts

Over Shs2.8 billion disbursed to the accounts of war debt claimants from Acholi, Lango, and Teso sub-regions bounced.

The Attorney General, Kiryowa Kiwanuka, told Parliament during plenary on Wednesday, 03 April 2024, that the monies had bounced because some beneficiaries had closed their accounts while other accounts were dormant.

The chief government adviser was updating the House on a recent meeting with MPs from the three regions on the payments of war debt claimants and beneficiaries.
The monies are part of the allocation released by the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development after the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs received Shs84 billion for the financial years 2021/2022 to 2023/2024 and was paid out to a total of 35,037 claimants.

He also revealed that they would engage Chief Administrative Officers in the three sub-regions to permit claimants who lost cattle to participate in a compensation verification exercise.

Hon. Jonathan Ebwalu (Indep., Soroti West Division) raised concern about non-payment of claimants who were awarded by court and have already been verified.

“The Soroti High Court heard and disposed of three court cases where it ordered government to compensate the three different groups. We have over 40,000 verified claimants, many of whom have not been catered to. How are we going to help them,” Ebwalu asked.

All claimants irrespective of whether they went to court or not, Kiwanuka said, will fill data cards submitted through district structures to enable the ministry take appropriate action.

Kiwanuka was quick to add that his ministry is currently paying out to other beneficiaries and claimants whose account information is accurate.

Hon. Linda Auma (Indep., Lira District Woman Representative) reiterated the need to prioritise payment of beneficiaries awarded compensations by court.

“It will be difficult if we give an open cheque saying that you can fill the data card whether you went to court or not. We have over 2.5 million people in Lango and if everyone fills the data cards, we will add more expenses to government,” Auma said.

The Attorney General said a request for appropriation will be put before Parliament in the same regard, and when availed, will be paid to the intended beneficiaries.

“This government respects court orders and the only thing I do not have is sufficient funds. But as soon as the funds are made available, we shall make the payments,” said Kiwanuka.

Hon. Jimmy Akena (UPC, Lira East Division) proposed for the provision of sufficient funds in subsequent budgets so as to make an impact with the compensation exercise.

“If we continue putting a token towards this exercise, it has no effect and will take many years to meet the obligations. What we put in the budget for this purpose must be realistic,” Akena said.

The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, advised the Attorney General to bring the concerns before Cabinet and report back to the House in a week's time.

“We also agreed that in three week's time, the Prime Minister will present a statement on the Floor, on other regions which were not captured in the compensation exercise,” said Tayebwa.