Civil Society Calls for a Comprehensive Audit of the Oil Revenue
Nathan Makuregye, a committee member of Publish What You Pay (PWYP) in Uganda has called for a full review of all oil transactions and government to publish how the oil revenue has been received and spent.
He made the remarks during a press conference on Feb.4 at Grand Imperial Hotel in Kampala following media reports on the Presidential Handshake where 42 government officials received UGX 6 billion.
“Ugandans need to know how much the government is receiving from oil transactions and the government should publish what they have got and spent out of the oil revenue,” Makuregye said.
He added that Ugandans have been hoping that with the oil revenues trickling in, reaching the middle-income country status is close since it’s expected to contribute 10-15 % of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over 20-30 years.
The Oil Curse
Robert Tumwesigye, also a member of PWYP, said that oil in the country is becoming a curse as only a few individuals are likely to benefit following the presidential handshake.
“We might be in a comfort zone thinking Ugandans will benefit from oil production and yet government could have received the oil money even before extraction,” Tumwesigye noted.
Tumwesigye called for the resignation of all the beneficiaries of the presidential handshake adding that they could be more than just 42 as reported in the media.
He questioned the credibility of Doris Akol, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Executive Director. He said that she should take the blame for the oil deal loss.
Tumwesigye added, “We should also have a presidential statement about this handshake scam. These 42 experts could have lied to him to loot the taxpayer’s money, and we demand his stand on the issue.”
He noted that various payments have been taking place since the signing of the production sharing agreement as per the 2014 report which indicates that Tullow paid US$ 23 million to the Ugandan government.
He added, “According to the Bank of Uganda (BOU) 2014/2015 annual report, the petroleum fund, which is Uganda’s account that was opened to hold oil money, was holding US$ 36 million (sh119 billion). This should be accounted for.”
Refund the Money
Gideon Atukwase, the Secretary of PWYP, called for the return of the presidential handshake money from the beneficiaries with interest adding that it could be helpful in transforming lives of several Ugandans.
“The beneficiaries unlawfully received tax payer’s money from the president, and therefore they should refund it with interest from the time they received it,” He noted.
He applauded parliament, especially the speaker, for standing out in demand for an account of the presidential handshake and the entire oil scum.