THE GOVERNMENT HAS confirmed that Uganda has repaid the €4 million in Irish Aid funding that was misappropriated by officials in the prime minister’s office last year.
The aid funding, which had been misappropriated by officials in the office of the Prime Minister of Uganda Amama Mbabazi, has been handed back following “intensive high level discussions” with the Ugandan government over the last two months.
The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, said that he was satisfied that this move and other steps taken by the government of Uganda “send a clear signal of their commitment to bring those involved to account and to improve their financial control systems”.
“I believe that these measures will contribute to the Government’s efforts to tackle corruption,” he said referring to the administration of the east African country.
The return of the money comes on foot of a report by the Department of Foreign Affairs which found that a “sophisticated and elaborate” scheme was used to facilitate the misappropriation of the funds and involved “collusion at senior levels”.
In October of last year, the Irish government suspended aid to Uganda after a report from the Ugandan auditor general found that €4 million of funding from the government’s aid agency, Irish Aid, had been transferred to unauthorised account belonging to the Office of the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Mbabazi denied that he received any of the aid money personally and said that most of the money received by his government was used for the development projects it had been intended for.
Following the repayment of the money the Tánaiste has now instructed officials to look at options for a “possible programme of support” for the Ugandan people in 2013.
Any such programme will use the €4 million in aid which has been repaid and will involve direct oversight by Ireland.
The Ugandan auditor general is continuing his investigation into the misappropriation which is likely to last another few months and aid through Irish government systems – such as Irish Aid – remains suspended pending the completion of the investigation.
Irish Aid added: “Ireland will not return to funding through Government systems in Uganda until we are fully confident that the Government has strengthened its internal financial controls and acted against officials who were implicated in this fraud.”