KAMPALA – Parliament has halted the disbursement of UGX5.29 billion to the Ministry of Lands to settle outstanding land compensation.
The money in question was meant for the compulsory acquisition of land by Government for Ndeeba Church of Uganda-CoU (3.8 billion) which was razed down by businessman Dodovico last year and compensation of land for Geoffrey Mugisha (1.49 billion) at Buyaga, Kibaale.
These funds are part of a bigger 292 billion Shillings Supplementary budget approved by parliament on 11th February to among others enable government purchase 18 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, purchase of more face masks by the Ministry of Health and purchase of ambulances.
However in her communication to the afternoon plenary, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said that she had received formal complaints after the passing of the Supplementary budget particularly regarding land compensation under the ULC.
It should be recalled that Geoffrey Mugisha was one of the six beneficiaries whose compensation was cleared by Parliament.
Kadaga says that a complaint on her desk entails inflation of land for which parliament approved money for compensation and others. She reported that under the circumstances, this part of the supplementary cannot be released pending an investigation by a Parliament Adhoc Committee.
Prior to the approval of the supplementary budget on 11th February, there was a sharp disagreement between the Minister of Lands Beti Olive Kamya, Minister of State for Lands Persis Namuganza and the Chairperson ULC, Beatrice Byenkya Nyakaisiki in regard to the compensation.
Byenkya raised a red flag on the approval of funds saying that her Commission was responsible for the compensations but it was not privy to information about the beneficiaries and the processes that led to their compensation.
On the other hand, Ministers Kamya and Namuganza insisted that the already presented list of six beneficiaries should be considered since they had been cleared by the Ministry of Lands following a presidential directive.
Patrick Isiagi, Parliament’s Budget Committee Vice Chairperson would later report that the stand-off between Ministry of Lands and the ULC had been resolved and the list of beneficiaries for compensation acknowledged. He recommended that parliament approves the funds and despite the then resistance from a section of MPs led by Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal, the funds got a nod from parliament.
Now following the new inconsistencies revealed by Kadaga, the Minister of State for Finance-General Duties, Gabriel Ajedra took to the floor and moved a motion to amend the resolution of parliament on the supplementary expenditure for financial year 2020/2021.
He acknowledged that Parliament had received a petition from a man identified Michael Obongomin contesting the allocations made to Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development for the benefit of M/s Ephraim Enterprises totaling 3.8 billion as compensation for the compulsory acquisition of land by Government of Uganda for Ndeeba Church of Uganda-CoU.
He added that the same petition contested an allocation to Uganda Lands Commission-ULC for the benefit of Geoffrey Mugisha totaling 1.49 billion as compensation for the compulsory acquisition of land.
Ajedra says that the petitioner alleges that the land belonging to Mugisha had been inflated by 256 hectares and the value for M/s Ephraim Enterprises land had been inflated by 2 billion Shillings.
Kadaga directed the Clerk to Parliament to clear the other items in the Supplementary so that the different ministries can process their resources. The Speaker said that she would be informing the House on the composition of the Adhoc Committee that would investigate the matter.