Kutesa speaks on US bribe, asks Shs65bn arrears

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Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon. Sam Kutesa

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is seeking funds in the next financial year to cater for government’s contributions to international bodies.

The request was made by the Minister, Hon Sam Kutesa, who was appearing before the Committee on Foreign Affairs to defend the ministry’s budget proposals in the National Budget Framework Paper for the Financial Year 2019/2020, on Tuesday, 29 January 2019.

Kutesa told Parliament that he is free to travel anywhere in the world, contrary to claims that a travel ban had been imposed on him.

Bribery saga

Kawempe North MP Latif Ssebaggala, tasked him to explain whether he is free to move following the $500,000 (Shs1.9b) bribe from a Chinese national.

Melbet

The New York court in the United States in December last year convicted Hong Kong’s former Home Affairs Secretary Patrick Chi-Ping Ho, 69, for allegedly offering bribe payments of Shs1.9b each to Kutesa and President Museveni in 2016.

“Let me tell you that the meeting of this committee was postponed last week because I was in Brussels. I am not under any threat, I travel wherever it is to do my work,” Kutesa said.

A preliminary report to Parliament by the Attorney General, William Byaruhanga, cleared Kutesa of any wrongdoing.

Fees and arrears

Meanwhile, Kutesa said the country is in arrears of contributions to these organizations and that this impacts negatively on Uganda.

“The Ministry of Finance has not been remitting these fees and currently we are in arrears of shs65 billion. With these arrears, the country has been sanctioned and we cannot contribute in these meetings. Can we get our full budget of shs 25 billion so that we do not find ourselves in this kind of situation again,” he said.

Kutesa also told MPs that government’s properties abroad are in a sorry state and requested the Committee to recommend that the missions abroad retain the Non Tax Revenue (NTR) for renovation and maintenance of the properties.

“On average, the Ministry collects Ush13.5bn from non tax revenue but as a requirement of the Public Finance Management Act, we remit this to the Consolidated Fund. As a means of getting an additional shs 20 billion, we be allowed to retain the NTR and finding the balance of shs6.5 billion for maintenance of these  properties abroad,” he added.

Hon. Jack Wamanga-Wamai (FDC, Mbale Municipality) said the Ministry should table a bill so that the NTR can be used to renovate the properties abroad.

“You need to take it to Cabinet and they bring it as a government bill. We can acquire a number of properties, and these funds can take us a long way in renovating these missions and buying more properties,” he said.

Parliament has overtime expressed disappointment with the state of the missions abroad and called on government to increase funding for the maintenance of the properties.

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