By Brian Bariyo Tumuramye
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has vowed to direct the Auditor General to carry out a forensic audit into the mismanagement of the Police Exodus Sacco.
The Police SACCO with a 4.8 billion shillings share capital and membership of 32,800 members has been marred with controversies in recent months. Members are not able to access or withdrawal their savings, causing panic among its members.
The then SACCO chairperson, Assistant Superintendent of Police Henry Kalulu was arrested for alleged mismanagement.
Although the Minister of Internal Affairs Mario Obiga Kania told Parliament that they would audit the accounts of the SACCO, no audit has been carried out.
Now the Speaker together with MPs; Elijah Okupa, James Waluswaka and Gafa Mbwatekamwa said in a meeting with the Police Joint Chief of Staff, Brig Jack Bakasumba, Asst. Commissioner of Police, Abubaker Ziwedde and other members of the new management of the Exodus Sacco.
Kadaga met the team to get an update on reports of alleged mismanagement of funds of the Sacco.
In December of 2019, MPs alleged that the Sacco’s books of accounts had disappeared and that several police officers were denied access to their funds raising fears among savers. It was also reported that since the inception of the Sacco, savers have never got dividends despite revenues increasing every year.
The Speaker said that about Shs5 billion appropriated by Parliament to clear the outstanding government debt in the Police’s Exodus Sacco had not been properly utilized. She added that out of this, Shs1.9 billion was still outstanding to suppliers who had been asked to pay withholding tax.
“These suppliers who are still demanding money from you for close to five years are complaining about charging them six per cent off their earnings in withholding tax which was never part of the agreement,” Kadaga said.
Bakasumba said that the money was used to pay some of the suppliers of hot meals to the Uganda Police during the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2016. He added that the Shs5 billion was part of Shs30 billion supposed to be paid by the Ministry of Finance in January 2020 to the Sacco to pay the remaining suppliers.
“We are willing to check the record again to find out whoever has not been paid and follow up on all these issues,” he said.
“We concede that these people should have been informed but they need to appreciate the fact that taxes have to be paid. URA has written to us reminding us that withholding tax needs to be deducted from the pay out,” Ziwedde said.
Mr. Okupa, the Kasilo County MP also called for the exemption of withholding tax charged on suppliers together with the SACCO who supplied food to police officers during the 2016 elections.
The suppliers petitioned Parliament saying they have not been paid, but police is also deducting withholding tax of their remaining balance of 9 billion shillings.
Kadaga said she will write a letter to the Auditor-General asking for an independent audit. She also tasked the SACCO leadership to write to Finance requesting for an exemption of the suppliers since they were informal at the time of supply.
The suppliers are demanding 9.2 billion of 20 billion shillings worth of supplies.
Kadaga advised the SACCO officials to write to URA explaining the circumstances under which the suppliers were contracted and ask for waiver of the tax.
She also asked whether there was an ongoing audit of the mismanagement of funds.
Ziwedde said that the forensic investigation had not been launched because the Police was still investigating the matter.