The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in parliament this week heard that the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal industry and Fisheries was incurring huge costs due to letting other security agencies use their equipment.
The ministry has 37 executive motor boats which are given out to the marines under the Internal Security Organisation, Presidential Guard Brigade and office of the President.
According to an environmental audit on Lake Victoria, it’s noted that the boats do not also have identifiable numbers and were not recorded in the register, so the boats may be misused and lost.
The committee chairperson Kasiano Wadri wondered why an office like the President’s office that is privileged to have a huge budget is allowed to burden the ministry and make farmers suffer.
Vincent Rubarema, the ministry permanent secretary, explained that the different agencies were working with the fisheries to carry out patrol on the waters because they have a stronger capacity compared to the ministry.
The committee also questioned why there is no memorandum of understanding signed between the ministry and the security agencies to which Rubarema said they only have a draft copy with the UPDF.
However, the ministry has an MOU with the office of the President. He accepted that some of the boats were not marked, including those used by the UPDF but there is improvement.
Wadri also quizzed Rubarema about how much the ministry has lost because of its generosity to the security agencies. Rubarema says in most occasions it’s the ministry that incurs the loss through fuelling of the motor boats yet they have a big problem of keeping the boats operational at their own cost.
Rubarema revealed that the security agencies have now acquired their own boats and returned those belonging to the fisheries department.
State Minister for fisheries Ruth Nankabirwa says for the two years she has been in office, the ministry has never given its motor boats to the security agencies.
However, if it did happen, she does not know under what arrangement it was done. She adds that there should have been a clear understanding as to who should have serviced the motor boats and if the ministry was incurring the costs without an MOU, then it was done in error.