News from Africa

Misuse of aid funds in Uganda

Témoignages.re / 28 October 2012

Aid funds that were intended to go towards reconstruction efforts in northern Uganda have been misused. This misuse of funds was discovered by the Office of the Auditor General of Uganda.

“This amounts to no less than stealing from the impoverished people of northern Uganda who have been subjected to conflict and misrule for years. We have a policy of zero tolerance for corruption and other misuse of funds, and we intend to get to the bottom of this,” said Minister of International Development Heikki Holmås.

A report published by the Office of the Auditor General of Uganda on 19 October 2012 contains strong criticism of the Office of the Prime Minister in Uganda. The criticism concerns the misuse of aid funds intended for the reconstruction of northern Uganda under the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan for Northern Uganda (PRDP).

“We are now carrying out a full investigation into the extent of the fraud. Together with other donor countries, we will make sure that we have all the facts on the table. When we have a more accurate picture of what has happened and how it could have happened, we will decide on an appropriate response. Funds that cannot be accounted for or funds reported as misused must be returned,” said Mr Holmås.

Over the past few years several donors, such as the UK, Norway, Sweden, Ireland and Denmark, have provided a total of NOK 155 million for reconstruction efforts in northern Uganda. Norway has provided NOK 60 million. The report published by the Office of the Auditor General of Uganda indicates widespread irregularities and fraud involving some NOK 75 million. Of this, NOK 27 million of the funding provided by Norway has been misused, according to the report.

“One bright spot in all of this is that the misuse of funds was revealed by Uganda’s own audit institution. Norway has supported the development of the Office of the Auditor General of Uganda for many years. This case shows how important this cooperation is. It is vital to have a national audit institution that is effective and can uncover irregularities and misuse of public funds. I am pleased that the Office of the Auditor General of Norway is to continue its cooperation with the Office of the Auditor General of Uganda,” said Mr Holmås.

Funding provided by Norway for the reconstruction of northern Uganda was ceased in 2011 and general budget support for Uganda halted in 2010. The reasons for the withdrawal of funding were both Uganda’s failure to adequately follow up cases of corruption and Norway’s desire to focus its efforts on areas where Norway has comparative advantages, such as energy, climate change and gender equality.

OSLO, Norway, October 26, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)

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