Former Minister for Finance Syda Bbumba told Parliament on Thursday that she gave caution to the Ministry of Microfinance under Ruth Nankabirwa not to disburse the 10 billion shillings meant for market vendors.
The public accounts committee of Parliament led by Jinja East MP Paul Mwiru heard that President Yoweri Museveni gave a directive to the Micro-finance Support Centre officials to disburse the money after the 2011 general elections.
Vendors from 400 markets countrywide were supposed to benefit from the money and some of the market leaders who appeared before PAC said they were given money as an incentive to vote for the ruling NRM party.
The money was meant to be a revolving fund for the small income earners and market vendors. However market leaders assured the committee that the money was not supposed to be refunded.
Bbumba told the committee that the money was not a grant but a soft loan insisting that she was not involved even though she is included as an attendee in one of the meetings to decide the beneficiaries.
In addition, it was not provided for in the budget since it came as a pressure and that is why they submitted a supplementary request to Parliament which was later approved.
It was on this basis that they worked out the repayment modalities and chose the Microfinance support centre to handle the distribution under the supervision of the Micro-finance ministry.
Maruzi County MP Maxwell Akora, who is the lead counsel for PAC wondered how the money turned into an emergency that it had to be disbursed immediately.
PAC also questioned who was supposed to account for the money between the Ministry of Finance and Microfinance Support Centre. Bbumba stated that details of accountability were between the Microfinance Support Centre and the accounting officer at the Ministry of Finance.
In a December 2010 meeting attended by the then Microfinance Minister Ruth Nankabirwa and Bbumba, the former Finance Minister is said to have stated that there was a balance of 1.2 billion shillings.
However, the list that the Joint steering committee submitted as beneficiaries for the money was dismissed by both Nankabirwa and Bbumba saying the committee had no capacity to handle the money. Bbumba responded that it was not her role but that of the permanent secretary.
When asked if she knew what was going on in the ministry to put blame on the Permanent Secretary, Bbumba said she was too busy to know everything and the PS was more at level with the day-to-day running of the ministry.
Bukonzo East MP Yokasi Bwambale then pinned Bbumba on alleged influencing of names of beneficiaries who were not on the list to also get the money. Bbumba however, responded that the list was very long but they worked on a policy for the active poor to access funds.
She begged to be excused from details of markets that had their members inflated and apologized for the loss of the 10 billion shillings.