The Secretary to Treasury Keith Muhakanizi will live to remember the 10th parliament for making him publicly apologize in its early days of inception and now, recommending his firing from a job he has held for years.
Currently, Muhakanizi who was earlier branded arrogant by many legislators has been recommended for dismissal from duty by the Parliament Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
He is in trouble alongside the Finance Minister Matia Kasaija who PAC says should be censured for misleading Parliament and obtaining the 200-million-dollar Preferential Trade Area-PTA loan by false pretence.
Muhakanizi on the other hand should be relieved of his office for superimposing his authority during the processing of the loan.
These recommendations to parliament are carried in the PAC report on the acquisition and utilization of the 200-million-dollar Preferential Trade Are-PTA loan, which was tabled before parliament on Wednesday afternoon by the committee chairperson Angelline Osegge.
The committee last year probed the utilization of the utilization and disbursement of the loan in which Ministry of Finance was under the spotlight over failure to release the 200-million Dollar loan to the rightful beneficiaries even when the money was disbursed by PTA Bank.
The National Medical Stores- NMS could not access the needed Shillings 156 billion from the loan to purchase drugs with a financing deficit of Shillings 68 billion caused by fluctuations in foreign exchange since 2011, which affected medical supplies to government health facilities.
The money was also meant to finance a shortfall in domestic revenue that was projected at 288 billion Shillings for the 2015/2016 financial year and substitute domestic borrowing to the tune of Shillings 280 billion.
The loan was also meant to ease finance expenditure pressure resulting from the exchange rate depreciation in the 2015/2016 financial year. However, to date the Ministry has failed to release the Shillings 156 billion meant for NMS despite a financing deficit of Shillings 68 billion due fluctuations in foreign exchange since 2011, which has affected medical supplies to government health facilities.
This loan proposal had originally been rejected by parliament on 7th January 2016 but the ministry of finance changed the objective of the loan emphasizing medical supplies to get the approvals required on 26th April 2016.
"The Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development by false pretence impressed upon Parliament in the justification for the loan approval stating the critical area for funding was medical supplied by NMS thus finance minister received the money fraudulently." reads part of the conclusions of the committee report.
A serious Osegge told parliament that although the finance ministry had received the funds, they had not released 68 billion Shillings to NMS as earlier on claimed by the ministry and that even after more loan funds were released, the concerned beneficiaries were neither informed nor given the funds.
"In a letter to the Speaker of Parliament of 15th March 2017, the Minister of Finance lied that the necessary contracts had not been provided by NMS to enable the necessary funds to be disbursed. The Minister did not reply to the letter of the Governor of the Bank of Uganda rejecting the loan proposal despite the concerns clearly raised." further reads the committee report.
The Public Accounts Committee- PAC further pins the Secretary to Treasury Keith Muhakanizi saying that he lied to the committee that the loan was received to stabilize the exchange rate with the consent of the Bank of Uganda.
The report notes that the Accountant General Lawrence Semakula objected to the loan proposal through a letter written to Muhakanizi indicating that the loan was not favorable because of its high interest rate. PAC says that domestic borrowing would have been cheaper than the 4.6% per annum interest paid on the PTA loan in addition to other costs of borrowing.
"For lying to Parliament and for superimposing his authority portrayed by insisting on the loan acquisition against strong advice in writing by the Governor Bank of Uganda, the Accountant General and the Director of Economic Affairs and superintending gross diversion of public funds, Keith Muhakanizi should be relieved of his office." reads part of the committee recommendations.
Osegge told parliament that Muhakanizi who doubles as a former Chairman of the Board of Directors of the PTA Bank insisted on acquiring the loan despite the emphatic objections from the Governor Mutebile, Accountant General and Director of Economic Affairs.
The committee wants the Inspector General of Government (IGG) to further investigate Muhakanizi for possible conflict of interest, collusion and connivance considering that he aggressively insisted on acquiring the loan with prior knowledge that he was a former Board Chairman of the PTA Bank. PAC wants the IGG's report on the findings to be submitted to parliament within 60 days from the date of the adoption of the report.
Osegge also recommended that parliament directs that the 200 million dollar loan be recovered, re-consolidated and applied for the sole and full purpose for which parliament approved the loan.
Following the presentation of the report, Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah noted that the committee makes serious recommendations and that since Muhakanizi was not an MP and therefore unable to defend himself, Kasaija would be given chance to give his defence before debate on the report starts.
Kasaija then pleaded that parliament allows him up to Tuesday next week to present his defence and evidence before parliament.