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MPs grill Kagina over UNRA’s huge contingency budget

UNRA Executive Director, Allen Kagina appearing before a Parliamentary COSASE. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – The Executive Director of the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), Ms Allen Kagina, on Wednesday faced a hard time as she struggled to explain to Members of Parliament how the road agency spent Shs430 billion on contingent liabilities in financial year 2017/2018.

Appearing before the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), Ms Kagina was tasked to explain how UNRA spent the money in question on lawsuits yet it was not budgeted for. According to the Auditor General’s report, out of the 3.8 trillion shillings of the approved budget for UNRA, the authority set aside 430 billion shillings for lawsuits against it, most of which were land-related.

Lyemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo asked Ms Kagina to explain while UNRA set aside all that money for contingencies.

In response, Ms Kagina explained that that court processes are unpredictable, sometimes awarding more to claimants.

The UNRA director for legal services, Ms Mary Kutesa, told the MPs that contingent liabilities have been reducing in the last three financial years, from 2016/2017 and that in 2017/2018, the actual amount for contingent liabilities was shillings 234 billion.

This is because she explained that Shs196 billion had been provided for in UNRA’s approved budget and that the body has reduced the liabilities to about Shs140 billion due to engagement with the parties to settle claims without costs or at reduced costs.

Ms Kagina cited two cases where a one Taremwa Kamishani Thomas and others sought an injunction against works on Mbarara-Katuna Road project demanding for fair valuation and 80 billion shillings for compensation for 5,000 project affected persons and Walugembe Mukasa Charles who demands 10 billion shillings for special damages and loss of structures in Kyadondo, Bwaise due to construction of the Northern By-pass. Other cases also include Patrick Lwanga Zizinga and Zion Construction Limited who are claiming between shillings 1 billion to 17 billion in land compensation.

Acting committee chairperson Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda tasked Kagina to provide a list of some of the cases against UNRA and how much they are demanding in court.

The Auditor-General had noted that though there was a decrease in contingent liabilities from shillings 476.3 billion in 2016/2017 to shillings 430 billion, the amount was still huge and could result in potential loss of funds in the event UNRA lost the cases.

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