|"President Museveni of Uganda names corrupt ministries" by Yasiin Mugerwa|
President Museveni has given a bullish assessment of the economy in 2009 and repeated his vow to clamp down on corruption as he delivered his end-of-year State-of-the-Nation address on Wednesday night.
He demanded that the Auditor General conducts a special value-for-money assessment of specific ministries and government departments, where abuse of public resources has been reported.
“In the forthcoming year, the Minister of Finance must ensure that the Auditor General has the resources to conduct special value for money audits in the following sectors: roads, health, agriculture, education, water and all public universities,” Mr Museveni said. “I expect that immediate action will be taken within these institutions where there has been found to be abuse of public resources.”
Mr Museveni said the economy, which grew by 8.7 per cent last financial year, would continue to grow by over seven per cent, despite the global financial turmoil, on the back of growth in the services and industry sectors, as well as investment in infrastructure.
“I want to reassure investors that the impact of the spill-over effects of the global financial crisis on our financial sector will be minimal, contrary to those pessimists who profess doom,” Mr Museveni said.
There were few, if any, policy departures in the speech: the plans to hold permanent secretaries to performance contracts has been several months in the pipeline, as are the plans to lend micro-finance money to loan to vibrant commercial farmers under the Prosperity for All scheme.
Notably, the speech was silent on the renewed UPDF offensive against the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels following the failure of peace talks. The President, however, used his address to single out corruption in his government as the major impediment to service delivery in the country, and called for closer supervision of selected sectors.
The President added, “I am also concerned about the level of corruption and ineffectiveness at land registries across the country. I understand that it is now very difficult to transfer titles or that transfers of titles are being made illegally.
“I am directing the Minister of Lands and Housing and the inspector generals of Government and Police to deal with the matter urgently, including causing criminal investigation with a view to prosecute the officials who are involved in fraudulent activities.” The President called on the Lands Ministry to prepare the necessary legal framework to separate land registries from the regular civil service as happened with the Uganda Revenue Authority in the early 1990s.
Defending the need to fight corruption, the President said discipline in public financial management is a critical element in ensuring that adequate resources are channelled to priority sectors as well as ensuring value for money.
While the anti-corruption tone of the message will be widely applauded, it is not the first time the President is vowing to clamp down on graft and rhetoric is likely to be tempered by the reality of how entrenched it has become.
In May last year, the President wrote to MPs after a brief that officials in the road sector were conniving with contractors to inflate tender award costs but there has been no visible action to hold responsible officials accountable.
Late last year, the Inspectorate of Government released the National Integrity Survey report which noted that corruption was glorified in Uganda and had become an acceptable way of life.
Despite the establishment of several legal and regulatory frameworks to tackle corruption, including the Inspectorate of Government, the Criminal Investigations Directorate, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority, government critics say there is often no political will to arrest and prosecute suspects.
According to 2005 World Bank estimates, Uganda loses about $300million through corruption and procurement malpractices every year, a factor that inspired the government’s decision to set up an anti-corruption court early last year.
In his State-of-the-Nation address, the President said government priorities in 2009 will include infrastructure development such as roads, energy generation, increasing production and incomes as well as social service delivery.
On energy generation, President Museveni said the government had decided to commence construction of a large-size Karuma hydro-power project that will create generation capacity of 700 mega watts, more than three times the amount of electricity originally envisaged.
On service delivery, President Museveni directed the Ministry of Finance to finalise the framework for public – private partnership in 2009 insisting that arrangement will assist government to concentrate on its core business while the private sector perform other services.
FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. “RESPONDANET” distributes this material without profit to those who are interested in visiting our website or have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C ß 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.