Chinese Companies Cough Shs26bn In Compensation Dimes
Chinese companies operating in Uganda have refunded Shs26 bn money meant for compensation under several Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) projects.
This follows an order by Uganda’s Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) that the five Chinese companies that were found guilty of misappropriating funds that were meant to compensate people affected by different road constructions projects, to refund the money
The companies include; Zhongmei Engineering, China Railway No 5 Group, Chongqing International Construction Company and China Railway 18th Group.
The money is part of shs47bn advanced to the companies by by the roads authority to compensate individuals affected by project constructions however the companies are reported to have put the money in fixed accounts to accrue interest.
Abdu Katuntu, the COSASE committee chairman, told a news conference at Parliament on Thursday that the four companies complied with a directive issued by the committee on Tuesday October 11, 2016 to refund the monies meant to compensate Project Affected Persons (PAPs) affected by the construction of Acholibur-Musingo road; Olwiyo Gulu road; Musita-Lumino-Busia road and Kanoni-Sembabule-Villa road.
According to the Auditor General’s report into UNRA financial statements, a total of Sh47.7Bn was advanced to the contractors for land compensation but only Shs15bn had been paid in compensation while the balance of Shs32bn remains unaccounted for.
Katuntu revealed that only China Railways No. 3 Group is the only company yet to refund shs9bn shillings. “They don’t have enough money on their accounts here. So what we have instructed UNRA to do is to call on the guarantee. I am certain that by close of business, the bank should be able to pay the full amount. We have recovered.
Katuntu asserted that the committee was not to try the contractors but rather recover taxpayers’ money which had been diverted by the companies. “Our role is to name and shame those that engage in fraud and recover the money. We are not a prosecuting agency but want to assure the Projects Affected Persons that soon they will receive their money,” Katuntu reassured.
Other members of the committee partly blamed UNRA for its lapses in ensuring authenticity and timeliness on the payments to the Project Affected Persons.
The committee also promised to recommend to Parliament to direct Govt to review the relationship between UNRA and contractors to avoid such mishaps in future.