MPs Bit­ter Over Dele­tion Of Tax As­ses­sor From Shs6b Handshake List

MPs Bit­ter Over Dele­tion Of Tax As­ses­sor From Shs6b Handshake List

Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment on the com­mit­tee on Com­mis­sions, Statu­tory Au­thor­i­ties and State En­ter­prises (COSASE) have ex­pressed anger over the ab­sence of a tax as­ses­sor on the list of ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the UGX6 bil­lion pres­i­den­tial hand­shake.

The com­mit­tee is cur­rently in­ves­ti­gat­ing cir­cum­stances un­der which 42 pub­lic of­fi­cers re­ceived UGX6 bil­lion as a re­ward for win­ning an oil tax case against Her­itage and Tullow oil companies.

The leg­is­la­tors learnt from one of the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the pres­i­den­tial hand­shake, Robi­nah Nakakawa, who is the Man­ager, URA Nat­ural Re­source Man­age­ment Unit, that Bernard Sanya was ap­pointed as a su­per­vi­sor in the URA Nat­ural re­source man­age­ment unit May 2010.

“Be­fore that he was ac­tu­ally work­ing as an of­fi­cer and used to con­sult me on most of the tech­ni­cal is­sues so I started work­ing with him and when­ever we had some in­stances where we wanted some­one to as­sist, he used to come in so handy,” Nakakawa told the MPs.

She fur­ther re­vealed that Sanya was in­stru­men­tal in de­ter­min­ing the $404 mil­lion cap­i­tal gains tax slapped on Her­itage af­ter it sold 50% of its stake to Tul­low.

“A de­ci­sion had been taken to dothis trans­ac­tion. We had to look for some­one to ini­ti­ate this into the sys­tem. He raises the as­sess­ment and it is re­viewed by an­other per­son,” Nakakawa ex­plained.

How­ever, her ex­pla­na­tion drew anger from leg­is­la­tors, in­clud­ing Abdu Katuntu, Bug­w­eri County MP, and com­mit­tee chair­man, who won­dered how one of the core team in as­sess­ing the taxes in the trans­ac­tion was not in­cluded on the re­wards list.

“There is an as­ses­sor who raises the as­sess­ment. He owns it by ac­tu­ally sign­ing it. So there is an­other su­per­vi­sor checks it…I am find­ing it hard to be­lieve that you have to look for some­body to sign,” Katuntu queried.

Katuntu won­dered how Nakakande ben­e­fit­ted from the bonus pay­ment yet Sanya, who also par­tic­i­pated in the process, did not.

“We have to talk to Sanya Bernard. It may not be about Sanya alone but the fair­ness of the whole thing and at a pol­icy level does the whole in­sti­tu­tion ben­e­fit from it?” Katuntu asked.

In re­sponse, Nakakawa said why a team re­viewed the as­sess­ment, but did not have a hand in the draft­ing of the list of ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

“I did not come up with that list of the ben­e­fi­cia­ries. It was not my re­spon­si­bil­ity,” she added. Dur­ing the same meet­ing, MPs tasked the URA of­fi­cials to pro­duce the fi­nal rul­ing of the court case.

Aruu County MP, Odonga Otto re­vealed to the com­mit­tee that there was in­for­ma­tion that gov­ern­ment did not win any case, rather opted for an out of court set­tle­ment.

“Which case of the two did we win and what is the ex­act de­scrip­tion court gave to show that Uganda won this case?” Otto queried.

Ali Ssekatawa, the As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner, Lit­i­ga­tion explained that the ac­tual award is with the Attorney Gen­er­al’s pos­ses­sion, stating that it is con­fi­den­tial and can only be availed by the of­fice.