Parliament stays Shs6bn presidential handshake oil cash

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President Yoweri Museveni

The Budget Committee has asked Parliament to stay approval of Shs6bn “presidential handshake” until the standing committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) has concluded its probe into the matter.

In January 2017, the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, ordered an investigation into the award of UShs 6billion to 42 public officers for winning the London tax oil arbitration case.

The arbitration case was between the Government of Uganda and Heritage Oil and Gas in 2015.

Parliament resolved to constitute a select committee to investigate circumstances under which rewards were made to 42 public officers for winning the case.

The committee was asked to scrutinise all supplementary requests and other budget allocations provided to the team in facilitating the court process in Uganda and abroad, establish all revenues received by government for the Petroleum Fund and investigate the basis of determination of the beneficiaries to the bonus payments including a full account of the role of each beneficiary in the court cases.

Addressing plenary presided over by deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah on Thursday, the budget committee of parliament asked that the approval of Shs6bn presidential handshake be stayed until after COSASE probe of the same.

In defence, President Yoweri Museveni said the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Caucus that the Shs.6 billion that was given to some public servants after winning the oil case against Heritage Oil, an independent Jersey-based oil and gas exploration and production company, was deliberate adding that he is proud of the Uganda group who fully deserved their reward.

“I reject that I did anything wrong. I am very proud of these young people,” he said.

“If the support staff were part of the big war that saved Uganda trillions and gained US$451 million, if they get 50 million Ugandan shillings for their first time in life, it is okay. It was their luck that they were part of the war,” remarked Mr. Museveni.

He further told the Caucus that in the last 30 years, he has only given the monetary ‘handshake’ twice; the first that occurred in 2006 when he was very happy with a group of scientists who had discovered oil and rewarded them publicly in Kololo with the highest being given about US$20,000, and the second being the recent one.

Budget recommendations

The Budget Committee also today recommended that government addresses case backlog by providing more resources to the Judiciary and other related institutions.

It also recommended that Uganda Revenue Authority [URA] recovers Shs47bn lost public funds from BIDCO, Aya Investments, Steel and Tube Industries, Quality Chemicals, Southern Range Nyanza

In the same plenary, parliament passed supplementary expenditure No. 2 of 2016/17 goes to President’s Office, State House, Office of the Prime Minister, Ministries and local governments.