‘No Money Until You Implement Our Recommendations’! -Parliament Blocks Trade Ministry Budget Over Failure To Fire PS Geraldine Ssali

‘No Money Until You Implement Our Recommendations’! -Parliament Blocks Trade Ministry Budget Over Failure To Fire PS Geraldine Ssali

By Spy Uganda

Kampala: The Trade and Tourism Committee of Parliament has declined to review the 2024/25 national budget for the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives until the ministry implements Parliament’s recommendation to dismiss Geraldine Ssali, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, citing her incapability for the position.

This was during a meeting convened to scrutinize the Ministry’s budget,where Mwine Mpaka, the Chairperson of the Trade and Tourism Committee re-echoed the committee’s recommendations after the Ministry officials, led by Minister Francis Mwebesa, failed to present an action-taken report regarding the disciplinary actions against officials implicated in three major investigations done by the same committee last year.

“The Committee has found in several incidences, your accounting officer unfit and recommended investigations be done. Personally, as a chairperson of the Committee, I don’t find any reason why this same Committee should appropriate funds to the Ministry of Trade, being that this is the first process of the budget process, in the past, Parliament has passed many resolutions but the Executive hasn’t taken action and Parliament has so many ways it can enforce that, through appropriation and action taken reports, do you have any action taken reports, if yes, give them to us,” said Mpaka.

According to Mpaka, the relationship between the committee and Ssali escalated when she took the Trade Committee to court, accusing it of bias and exceeding its mandate. While as the first case was thrown out, there is a pending hearing slated for 13th February 2023.


Following the development, Mpaka has thus vowed to abstain from any meetings allocating funds to the Trade Ministry in the next financial year, except for statutory obligations like salaries.

 “You are only going to get salaries from this Committee in the next Financial year, where you get your budget may be from, I don’t know where, but as per the law, it is Parliament that appropriates, and we shall take this to the floor, even in your ministerial policy statements with zero allocations other than salaries to the Ministry of Trade,” he said.

However, Minister Mwebesa contested the committee’s decision, noting that all requested actions were implemented but were later overturned by a letter from President Museveni, halting Ssali’s removal.


 “The thing that I heard last as I was coming in, you said that the permanent Secretary has personally taken Parliament to court, I would be a madman if I sent Parliament to court. It isn’t procedurally right and since she has taken Parliament to court, as an individual, let her hustle it as an individual, but we must make sure that the Ministry work and that of the Government doesn’t halt. But you can’t say the Ministry hasn’t taken steps, but whatever Parliament asked me to do, I did it,” said Mwebesa.

However, his argument was rejected by Richard Gafabusa, MP for Bwamba County, who also vowed not to participate in any meeting allocating money for development and other expenditures other than wages to the Ministry, whose Permanent Secretary is Ssali.

“I thought the Minister was going to explain to us how we would appropriate money to be spent by the same Accounting Officer that parliament recommended that she be relieved of that responsibility. Unless we get an action taken report, personally, I wouldn’t think I would participate in appropriating money to the Ministry of Trade, let the powers that be appropriate money to the Ministry and for us we watch. Otherwise, we would be wasting time with whatever we are doing and then be looked at as if we are nothing. Personally, I won’t participate in this process, if the accounting officer of trade is still Madam Geraldine Ssali, I will not,” said Gafabusa.

However, Minister of State for Trade Harriet Ntabazi disagreed with Gafabusa, wondering why the whole Ministry should be punished for the sins of an individual.

“There are many things that might have gone wrong last year, but this being a new year, with the new approaches, we really want to apologise for what went wrong last year, but still, we want to call upon the Committee we have tried our level best to put the Ministry right, but sometimes the Ministry is also sometimes constrained. You have given an order, the Ministry implements it, and the Ministry of Finance removes it, but another order comes and says this must be reversed,” she said.

Ntabazi wondered what the Committee expected the Ministers to do if their actions were thwarted by a directive from the State House.


“In this case, put yourself in my shoes, do you put the Ministry on halt? But if it is an individual, killing a Ministry, the Ministry is an organisation, the person will go, but the organisation will stay,” she added.

Mwine, however, insisted on calling off the meeting, stating that if the hands of the Ministers are tied, it is time the MPs relieved them of this confusion by halting the scrutiny of the budget until the Executive takes action on the recommendations made by Parliament.

The frosty relationship between the Committee on Trade and Tourism and Ssali played out in the public when Parliament adopted recommendations in its report, calling for the sacking of Ssali over allegations of inflating the cost for renovation works on Farmers’ House, where the Ministry is headquartered.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Secretary to the Treasury, Ramadhan Ggoobi, went on to sack Ssali, but his actions were thwarted by President Museveni, who wrote ordering her reinstatement with immediate effect.

The President, in his letter, said that Ssali was critical of saving taxpayers money after she stopped the deal in which the Ministry was going to pay billions of shillings in rent at Kingdom Hall Kampala.

Mwine also faulted the Ministry for failing to lodge a complaint or furnish information to both the Inspectorate of Government and Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) with the intent of prosecuting Ssali and several officials named in the three corruption scandals at the Ministry of Trade.

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