Following the recent 30th position Uganda is in, among the top most corrupt countries scoring 26 points out of 100 on 2017, in the Corruption Perception Index, the Minister of State for Finance, David Bahati, agrees and backs it with high levels of bureaucracy leading to poor sector performance.
“First of all, I would imagine why we have 26 scores on corruption perception index why not 100%? Corruption is still a great challenge that cuts across all sectors. Bureaucracy is yet another problem, a lot of time is wasted in making a simple decision,” Bahati said, while addressing the Accountability Sector Joint Annual Review (ASJAR) 2018 Audit conference.
“We need to reduce the levels of administration that reviews these processes. In this high bureaucracy level, there lie beds of corruption and this has seriously scared away our investors,” he added
A few weeks ago, while addressing the China-Uganda Economic Forum, President Museveni, also wondered why many meetings are held over one simple issue. “Much as there are a lot of investment opportunities in Uganda, both local and foreign investors have often complained of the problem of bureaucracies in the institutions. This slows down investment in the country. Something that should be done within hours or a day, takes weeks and others months,” Museveni complained.
Museveni described the problem of corruption and bureaucracy as a software economic bottleneck that Uganda needs to get rid of. “Many Government officials, including high profile individuals, have been accused of soliciting bribes from the Chinese investors in return for favours. We need to stop this culture,” Museveni added.
However according to audit and anti-corruption ASJAR 2018 Financial Year 2017/18, there is still a very low level of implementation of anti-corruption recommendations. Only 24% of the recommendations have been implemented, against an Accountability Sector Strategic Investment Plan (ASSIP) target of 85%. Yet, even in FY 2016/17 only 47% was implemented failing to meet the target which was 65%. However, as the audit/ anti-corruption sub-sector shows a slight improvement in performance.
Of the 15 high-profile cases investigated involving UGX 306.5 billion, only five public officers were prosecuted and three forwarded for administrative actions In the Local Government sector, out of the 1, 449 corruption investigations conducted, 53 cases were submitted for prosecution, 13 public officers were dismissed, four interdicted, six given warnings and 14 referred to their respective service commissions for disciplinary proceedings. Only UGX 540,533,909 was recovered from these public officers, 47 cases were prosecuted, nine were high-profile cases and 38 were of other corruption charges.
The Inspectorate of Government (IG) compiled a list of 134 cases for the recovery of funds totalling UGX 1,6 billion, but only UGX 756 million was recovered.
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, called for immediate action towards the two tendencies. “Wrongs must not be exceptional. What have you done in the previous sector review? Are we doing differently? We are doing the same thing, but expecting different results which is very un-realistic,” he admonished the IG.
Oulanyah wondered whether the policies put in place are effective, and if so, why had the accountability committees failed to fight corruption. “The reason we exist is to show the equilibrium in what we do, but corruption is tearing us apart,” Oulanyah added,
“We need also to know who the people in charge of the institutions are, and if they are qualified to be in these institutions. Do they have the right attitude towards what they are doing? If we get this, we shall be able to fight all these bad morals,” Oulanyah said.
In response to these problems, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mike Chibita, encouraged every sector to create a vibrant complaints mechanism, “In my office we have a vibrant complaints desk and it has helped a lot” he said.
Bahati promised to reduce on the levels of bureaucracy. “I want everything to be done within three months. Time-wasting is totally bad,” he concluded.