By Watchdog reporter
The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has reportedly tasked the Masaka Municipal Town clerk and, Godfrey Kayemba (Mayor) to explain how Sh202million meant for infrastructure development were swindled and then diverted into purchasing the mayor’s office furniture instead.
The said money was received under the Uganda Support to Municipalities Infrastructure Development (USIMID) project intended to construct roads within the municipality.
The queries arose during a committee meeting chaired by Aswa County Member of Parliament Reagan Okumu on Wednesday at Ssaza, Masaka where a sum of approximately Sh200 million was unaccounted for.
“We need to know how the money meant for road construction was diverted to buy office necessities. USIMID funds are accountable for and no one can misuse it,” Mr Okumu said.
However, in his defense, Masaka Municipality town clerk Paul Omoko told the committee that the mayor’s office was troubled with obsolete and limited furniture which forced them to use some money from USIMID funds.
Mr Omoko further explained that other Sh25m was spent on sensitization through radio talk shows, Shs25m on street grading and mapping; the training of revenue officers took shs5m, facilitation of Municipal Development Forum Shs4.5m and the enumeration and updating of revenue registers cost them shs1m.
However Mr Omoko’s explanation yielded no positive results to the irritated committee ordering him to come up with a detailed report backed up with supportive facts and evidence. They weren’t given deadline day to submit their elucidations though.
Mr Joseph Ssekabito, the PAC member representing Mawogola south in parliament demanded that the Masaka Municipal Council must refund the project money because its intention is not completely achieved.
“The Town clerk and the Mayor should refund all the Shs202million abducted from the roads project funds. This is ridiculous, buying the office chairs was uncalled for,” Mr Ssekabiito fumingly said.
The committee also demanded for the full details of Mr Martin Kigozi, the Masaka Municipal Physical Planner which include the air ticket to Berlin and related accountability of the journey and the claimed trips of councilors to Mbarara among other necessary expenditures and also come along with the mentioned individuals in the next meeting pending mention.
Mr Okumu in his conclusive remarks revealed to the committee that they receive threatening calls from people in Masaka warning them to stop probing the USIMID project.
“There is no body that wants to sabotage the project but we are helping the people to benefit in the government because it has invested a lot of money,” Mr Okumu said.
When we reached Mr Kayemba on the matter, he declined to comment saying he lacked briefing from the town clerk. However, promised to let us know after getting the information at his desk.
“Please, I haven’t got that report and accusations, so I cannot independently supplement on issues I haven’t grasped officially,” Kayemba said.