KAMPALA – The Minister of Finance Planning and Economic Development, Matia Kasaija has asked the Parliamentary Committee on National Economy to give him more time to examine claims that the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development exaggerated the price for carrying out geo-mapping of minerals in Karamoja region to a tune of UGX60b.
Kasaija made the request while appearing with his counterpart, Peter Lokeris State Minister for Minerals were appearing before the committee to present the loan request in which government is seeking to borrow up to Euros 20.6M approximately Shs83.729Bn from the Corporate Internationalization Fund of Spain which funds would go towards mapping of minerals in Karamoja region.
The Minister said that 80 percent of the country has already been mapped and Karamoja region is remaining.
However, after defending the proposal Thomas Tayebwa (Ruhinda North) tasked Kasaija to clarify on claims by the Secretary to Treasury Keith Muhakanizi that the price had been exaggerated.
Tayebwa tabled a July 2019 letter in which Muhakanizi wrote, “However, this Ministry is intercept of confidential report from a whistleblower indicating that the current estimated cost approved by cabinet is exaggerated by Shs60Bn. The report further indicates that your Ministry refused to consider a proposal from another company SRK which would carry out the same activities at a cost of USD9.6M compared to Euro 20.6m estimated by Xcalibur.”
However, Kasaija denied knowledge about the existence of the letter, prompting MPs to protest his argument with Kasiano Wadri (Arua Municipality) noted the Shs60 billion differences is a lot of money and the committee should not scrutinize the request until they have confirmed the money was not exaggerated.
Lawrence Bategeka Vice Chairperson National Economy Committee noted that the money government is going to spend to map the remaining 20 percent is higher than the money that was used to map the rest of the country and says that there is need to probe the letter by Muhakanizi further.
He said, “You said that 80% of mapping in the country has been done at a cost of USD50.3M and the remaining is 20% and if we are to talk about the remaining should be USD12.3M. why now this last leg to cost so much?”
This prompted Kasaija to ask the committee to allow him to go and consult from his permanent secretary about the claims so that he can speak on the subject with authority.
Kasaija said, “I need to pray that you release us and raise question with my Permanent Secretary why this letter wasn’t copied to me so when I come here I speak with authority.”