State House has spent at least Shs 2.4 billion on the visitation committee of Inquiry into the affairs of Makerere University.
The nine member committee was appointed on November 14, 2016 by President Yoweri Museveni at the height of failed negotiations and demonstrations that led to the closure of Makerere University.
It was tasked to study and make a situation analysis of Makerere and causes of endemic strikes, study three earlier reports from similar investigations at institute. It was to also conduct a special audit in the Financial management practices of the university.
It was also further expected to undertake an audit in the population of students, teaching and non-teaching staff presently studying or working at Makerere University in order to weed out any ‘ghosts.’
State House comptroller Lucy Nakyobe says that the committee, which is yet to present its investigation report, has spent so far Shs 2.434 billion in allowances and travels abroad. This includes an expenditure of Shs 1.811 billion on allowances and Shs 623 million on travel.
According to Nakyobe, the nine core members of the committee visited different countries around the world to bench mark as part of their investigations.
Some of the countries visited are Malaysia, United States of America (USA), South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. Nakyobe was appearing before parliament’s Budget Committee where she is seeking approval for a supplementary budget for the expenditure.
Without providing names, Nakyobe added that the committee has two ex-officials, eight professional experts, 14 research assistants and 20 audit assistants beside its nine core members.
But members of the budget committee questioned the cost of the visitation committee and described the expenditure as outrageously abnormal adding that Ugandans may not get value for money from the work of the committee.
Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal questioned why State House funded the visitation committee and not the education ministry that supervises the education sector.
In her response, Esther Mbayo, the minister for the Presidency defended the expenditure of State House on the visitation committee saying that it was a decision by the president since at the time, all ministries had experienced budget cuts yet the visitation committee had to carry out its work.
But Ogwal demanded more answers on why the visitation committee funding should be an emergency for the country. Ogwal attacked State House officials for continuously using supplementary budgets to spend tax payer’s money.
Minister Mbayo noted that State House took up the funding for the visitation committee since the education ministry had failed to solve problems at Makerere University. Committee chairperson Amos Lugoloobi requested State House officials to avail a breakdown of the 2.4 billion Shillings expenditure before a decision is made on the supplementary request.