Fix URA Corruption Or Quit – M7 Tells Off Akol
By John V Sserwaniko
In a bid to enhance efforts to tame corruption in public office and enhance performance of government Ministries, Departments & Agencies (MDAs), President Museveni recently revitalized the desk of economic monitoring in his office.
The desk has always existed but had lost credibility and sunk into obscurity during the days of and after departure of Teddy Sezi Cheeye. During Cheeye’s days, some of his assistants had resorted to using the desk to leverage themselves to get money by blackmailing corrupt government officials whose conduct they were supposed to scrutinize.
Subsequently, Museveni became frustrated and abandoned the once much feared desk, a thing that sunk it into obscurity and irrelevance.
However, Museveni recently revived the desk mostly to monitor financial transactions dubiously engaged in by public officials who sometimes prove too shrewd even for non-compromising IGG Irene Mulyagonja.
Knowledgeable sources say Museveni also wanted to use the revitalized desk to keep tabs on high ranking government officials suspected of continued loyalty to his former Premier Amama Mbabazi.
Since revitalization, we can reliably reveal, the operatives on the desk have been restless. On Museveni’s prompting, they daily liaise with Bank of Uganda to obtain prompt information regarding bank transactions each of the targeted government officials quietly carries out.
This covers the deposits and withdraws made on each official’s bank account. The operatives also closely follow and monitor bank accounts of the targeted officials’ spouses, children, business partners and possible proxies.
Credible sources say over 1,000 senior government officials (political and technocratical) are under this daily surveillance.
“Every day the operatives on that desk prepare loads of printouts for Mzee’s perusal. The big man believes this gives him an opportunity to directly participate in detecting and fighting corruption. He doesn’t want to be taken off guard with rumors that so and so has a lot of money. He learnt the hard way through the Mbabazi experience,” said a credible source adding that Museveni for long had sleepless nights over persistent reports that Mbabazi had accumulated lots of money for his eventual 2016 campaigns.
“It caused a lot of panic and anxiety and government even had to undertake panicky legislation seeking legal remedies on how to get legal authority to search JPAM’s home to establish the extent of his wealth.”
LEARNS OF URA GRAFT
It was one of those reports that recently disclosed something that opened Museveni’s eyes to possible existence of deep rooted corruption in Doris Akol-led URA.
Reliable State House sources say that a middle level URA manager (identity withheld), overseeing customs at one of the border posts was recently exposed to be stinking rich, something that left Museveni in utter shock.
We are told the economic monitoring desk operatives got a tip off from disgruntled URA colleagues that the young man had just hit a jackpot. They became interested and trailed the young man’s banking activities in one of the city commercial banks.
They were shocked to find that only a few days earlier the young man with a modest salary had accumulated a whooping Shs8.5bn on his bank account. The economic monitoring desk operatives included this in their daily report to Museveni for that fateful day.
As Museveni perused the brief, he was shocked to the marrow when he found such colossal sums of money being deposited on the young man’s account. Sources say Museveni demanded that the young man be brought before him for interrogation.
“He insisted on interrogating him himself because he feared asking other agencies may not work as the operatives may get bribed and exonerate the young man,” said reliable State House sources privy to the workings of the revived economic monitoring desk.
“He kept asking him how did you get this money? What did you sell to get anybody deposit so much on your account? The young man couldn’t account properly for his jackpot and Mzee’s conclusion was that this was a bribe from one of the big tax evaders in manufacturing sector.” Sources say on investigating more, Museveni was shocked to learn that the very same information had been availed to URA top echelons showing existence of a cartel of untouchables in the manufacturing industry dodging taxes but no action was being taken.
At this point, sources say, Museveni became very disappointed with URA Commissioner General Doris Akol whose ineptness at netting these dubious actors is something Museveni least expected. We are told on probing further, Museveni was told the young man, like many others at URA, was able to successfully deposit his root because of connivance with top commercial bank managers who are famously involved in this syndicate.
Sources say because he was furiously disappointed with his once blue eyed girl Akol, Museveni decided to raise his URA graft-related grievances directly with her sector supervisor the elderly Matia Kasaija to whom he subsequently wrote an angry letter (hereby attached).
In the letter Museveni discloses his shocking findings regarding the rot at URA and generally in tax administration in Uganda. As if to imply the problem has gone beyond what Mzee Kasaija and Akol can administratively handle, Museveni directs Matia Kasaija to commission an international audit inquiry to establish the extent of non compliance by some manufacturers mostly in steel manufacturing and plastics sub sector.
He reveals that his information is that Uganda annually loses over Shs300bn in well collaborated tax evasion schemes in steel and plastics sub sectors alone. He explains this unabated tax evasion partly explains why URA has lately been failing to hit its tax collection targets-and thereby hurting chances of accomplishing the middle income status by 2020.
“He is also wondering why Kasaija and Akol haven’t been able to discover this fraud for all this time yet some of the very whistle blowers who brought it to his attention have often been volunteering this same information to the duo,” separately said one of our sources in a bid to corroborate on contents of the leaked Museveni letter.
He wants the international audit probe to cover probable scandals at URA stretching back up to 6 years. As if to indicate they have a lot of useful information, Museveni also directs Matia Kasaija to closely work with UMA bosses in order to exhaustively get to the root of the problem.
The letter is copied to Akol who sources say Museveni has previously asked to show how she intends to clean up or else risk losing her juicy job. Other recipients include Premier Rugunda, Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde, PS/ST Keith Muhakanizi and UMA Board Chairman Amos Nzeyi.
Museveni also orders Matia Kasaija to expeditiously study and consider previous proposals given by celebrated US lobbyist Rosa Whitaker (a staunch Museveni ally and defender in Washington) on how the problem of tax evasion can be tackled once and for all.
Appearing angry, Museveni also uses the word “crooks” to contemptuously refer to shady manufacturers and fake investors perpetrating the vice he is complaining about. He also makes reference to NSSF statutory obligations calling for strong action against companies that default remitting NSSF contributions for their workers.
We can reliable reveal that the panicky URA boss Doris Akol nervously called a crisis meeting on Thursday afternoon to solicit for ideas on how she can circumvent dangers posed by this latest URA scandal whose whistle blower is none other than the Fountain of Honor himself.
This latest scandal comes on the heels of the Shs6bn Presidential Handshake scandal which has since tainted reputations and names of public officials (Akol inclusive) whose moral uprightness was previously unrivalled in Uganda’s contemporary public service.