President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has ordered the reinstatement of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Ministry Permanent Secretary, Geraldine Ssali, as an Accounting Officer.
Early this month, the Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary/ Secretary to the Treasury, Ramathan Ggoobi, suspended Ssali as an Accounting Officer following financial queries.
This arose from a parliamentary probe into alleged financial misappropriation of supplementary funds at the ministry for the financial year 2021/22.
The committee called for Ssali’s removal from the role of accounting officer, citing abuse of office, causing financial loss, negligence of duty, and other charges. The report was adopted by Parliament in August.
It recommended that ministry officials including; Tom Opio, Daniel Kalule, Deo Byaruhanga and Rosemary Asiimwe, be investigated by the Inspectorate of Government (IG) and the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), in accordance with the Anti-Corruption Act, 2009.
In a letter dated October 3, 2023, Ggoobi quoted the recommendation by the Parliamentary Probe Committee that asked his office to exercise his authority under the Public Finance Management Act to withdraw the appointment and designation of Ssali as an Accounting Officer over her alleged involvement in illegal and deliberate fraudulent practices that have cost the government a staggering 8 billion Shillings.
However, a letter dated October 26, by the Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet, Lucy Nakyobe Mbonye, called for her immediate reinstatement.
“Reference is made to H.E. the President’s letter Ref: PO/1 dated 22nd October 2023 concerning the above-mentioned Permanent Secretary (copy hereto attached for ease of reference). This is to request you to immediately reinstate Ms Geraldine Ssali Busuulwa as the Accounting Officer for the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives as per the President’s directive,” Nakyobe wrote.
Responding to the allegations and queries, Ssali said she opted to repair the current Trade Ministry offices instead of renting, a move that saved government over Shs2 billion.
“Regarding the renovation of office space at Farmers House it is important to note that the Ministry was allocated a Supplementary Budget of UGX 5Bn for this purpose. The decision to renovate was made due to the dilapidated condition of Farmers’ House. Additionally, an additional UGX 3Bn was allocated for FY 2022/23 bringing the total annual rent expense to UGX 8Bn. These funds were intended to improve working conditions for our staff.”
Adding, “After careful consideration we determined that renovating the office space would be a more cost effective solution compared to incurring recurring annual rent expenses. However there were delays in releasing the funds, which were approved in Aug 2021 but disbursed in April 2022. This posed a challenge when it came to securing suitable accommodation promptly. Nevertheless, we obtained clearance from the Solicitor General for our procurement method of restricted bidding and ensured compliance with the Uganda PPDA Act.”
She revealed that the Solicitor General approved the renovation of the premises and all necessary supporting documents are available for reference.
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