By Kagenyi Lukka
Parliament’s committee on commissions, statutory authorities and state enterprises (cosase) will hold its last session today as it winds up the ongoing probe into irregularities that were cited in the closure and sale of defunct banks.
Today, Cosase will dig deeper into the contested over ugx 470 billion that Bank of Uganda (BoU) purportedly injected into Sudhir Ruparelia’s crane bank Limited (Cbl) between October 2016 and 25th January 2017 when it was ‘sold’ to dfcu bank at Ugx 200 billion.
However, on Friday 8th February 2019, parliament grilled several officials led by the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Hon Matia Kasaija and Governor Prof Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile.
As expected, Kasaija didn’t make edge cutting input into the matter at hand.
Kasaija’s presentation only left with three conclusions; he could be incompetent, conflicted or tired as I will expound below.
Is Kasaija incompetent?
Minister Kasaija been on several occasions acted in a manner that one can be prompted to conclude that he is an incompetent supervisor.
The Ministry of finance which he supervisors works with BoU on a daily basis, and its permanent secretary sits on the board of BoU. Therefore how better BoU is ran depicts well on the ministry and the reverse is true.
While appearing before Cosase on Friday, Kasaija admitted that BoU has inefficiencies pleading that they will be corrected.
He further astonished parliament when he averred that he has never received any report on defunct banks even when Teefe was closed in 1993.
Kasaija has been in the ministry of finance since 2011 as junior minister and later, full minister in 2015.
Isn’t he therefore part of the inefficiencies at BoU and MoFPED by extension?
The reappointment of Justine Bagyenda to the FIA board.
In a further show of Matia Kasaija’s incompetence, He shocked the country when he reappointed embattled former BoU EDS, Justine Bagyenda to the board of the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) in May 2018.
Bagyenda was being investigated by FIA on possible counts of Money laundering while another investigation was being conducted by the Inspector general of government for flaunting provisions of the Leadership code.
Ms Bagyenda’s possible money laundering activities and other integrity challenges became public in 2017 and Kasaija claimed not to know by mid-2018.
In an interview with the press, he shamelessly remarked, “When I re-appointed her, the issues of money laundering and others were not yet in the press. There is no way I could have re-appointed her with question marks surrounding her integrity,” Mr Kasaija told press.
Therefore, how competent is a minister who couldn’t know that Bagyenda has been a dirty person even when petitions about her integrity have been public?
Is Kasaija a conflicted minister?
Kasaija has been at the fore front of efforts halt the Cosase probe.
In the cabinet meeting of 3rd December 2018 as reported by daily monitor of 5th December, Kasaija reportedly argued that the probe be stopped as it may lead to capital flight while also scaring away potential Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) with investors uncertain about the status of the central bank.
As an alternative to the inquiry, Mr Kasaija reportedly proposed that a meeting be convened between BoU, the Finance ministry and MPs on the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) to get to the bottom of all the issues relating to central bank woes.
However, the president thwarted Kasaija’s move arguing that he warned BoU especially on Crane bank but the former didn’t listen to him.
Why would someone without a conflict of interest fight such a probe?
Is Kasaija a tired minister?
By acting as if he doesn’t know what is going on, Kasaija can be adjudged as a tired minister if not among the sleeping.
Kasaija has been in government since 1980 when he was 36 years of age.He then served as minister of labour. These are most definitely, more years of service and one would ask, isn’t he too tired to handle such a sector?