July 6, 2015

Tough Penalties For Corrupt Officials Proposed

Legislators have proposed severe and deterrent penalties in the Anti-Corruption (Amendment) Bill for persons convicted of causing financial losses to government.

Kazinda was sentenced to five years in prison for abuse of office
Kazinda was sentenced to five years in prison for abuse of office

Parliament on Wednesday, 1st July 2015 resumed consideration of the Anti-Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 after it had been deferred to allow for further consultations.

The Anti-Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013, a Private Members’ Bill, seeks to amend the Anti-Corruption Act, 2009 to provide for mandatory confiscation of property of persons convicted of offences under the Act.

The mover of the Bill, Hon. John Ssimbwa (NRM, Makindye East), said that the proposed law is “intended to ensure that government or any other company or organization recovers the loss, if any, caused by a person convicted of an offence under the Act.”

Although the Bill had provided for 336 currency points (Shs 6.72million) or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 14 years or both for persons convicted of causing financial loss to government, Members said the penalties were not severe enough to deter corruption.

“We should have heavy penalties. Geoffrey Kazinda (former Principal Accountant in the Office of the Prime Minister) was given only four years,” said Hon. Alex Ruhinda (NRM, Fort Portal Municipality).

Hon. Raphael Magyezi (NRM, Igara West) said, “I propose we fix the penalty at 5,000 currency points (Shs 100million).”

The former Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Nandala Mafabi, suggested that the penalty be raised even further from “5,000 currency points to double the amount of the loss caused or 14 years imprisonment or both.”

The Chairperson of the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Stephen Tashobya, however cautioned that penalties introduced should be in line with others provided in the Anti-Corruption Act, 2009 and should take into consideration that the law also provides for confiscation of property.

Members suggested that the section of the Bill, reads “A person, who does or fails to do any act knowing or having reason to believe that the act or omission will cause financial loss to the political office, government, bank, credit institution, a company or a public body or private body commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding 336 currency points or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 14 years or both.”

The Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, asked the mover of the Bill together with the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee and selected MPs to meet and reconcile the penalties before a decision is made by the House.

If the proposal is approved, persons will also be charged with causing financial loss to a bank, credit institution, a company or a public body or private body.

The Anti-Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 is also intended to ensure that government or any other company or organization recovers the loss, if any, caused by a person convicted of an offence under the Act.

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