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Lawyer summoned over Shs39 billion tea farmers compensation

Lawyer summoned over Shs39 billion tea farmers compensation

Tea farming in Western Uganda
Tea farming in Western Uganda

The Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) has summoned Patrick Kiconco Katabaazi, a partner with Pathways Advocates over failure to account for Shs39 billion meant for Kigezi region tea nursery bed operators.  

This followed a meeting with the Executive Director of the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) Samuel Mugasi on Thursday, 10 August 2023.

The committee is scrutinising the report of the Auditor General on financial statements of NAADS for financial year 2021/2022. 

Kiconco was expected to appear before the committee but delegated his colleague, Asiimwe Mugumya who was rejected by the committee.

According to the Auditor General’s report, NAADS advanced Shs39 billion to Pathways Advocates to compensate tea nursery operators who had sued government for failure to procure their seedlings.

NAADS boss, Mugasi
NAADS boss, Mugasi

Mugasi tabled evidence that the agricultural body advanced funds to Pathways Advocates in two instalments of Shs27 billion and Shs12 billion.

Hon. Eddie Kwizera (NRM, Bukimbiri County) however, said that out of the 142 beneficiaries from Kisoro, he randomly sampled five farmers who allegedly have been paid but they revealed that  they had not received any money.  

“Are you [Mugasi] aware that some people did not get the money? 50 per cent of beneficiaries from Kisoro have not received any money. I want NAADS to provide evidence that those farmers have received the money,” Kwizera said.

Kwizera (R) says the farmers he spoke to admitted to not having got the money
Kwizera (R) says the farmers he spoke to admitted to not having got the money

Mugasi replied that, ’I am not aware and let the lawyer himself come and provide this information’.

The Committee’s lead Counsel, Hon. Ronald Ndyomugenyi (Indep. Rukiga County) said that whilst NAADS has evidence that the money was disbursed to Pathways Advocates, the farmers have not been paid.

“Despite the fact that there was a consent judgment that has all the names of the tea nursery bed operators, when you look at the accountability, the lawyer is not telling NAADS what each farmer received, they just gave block figures for sub regions,” said Ndyomugenyi.

This prompted the Committee’s Vice Chairperson, Hon. Lucy Akello to summon Kiconco to appear before the committee on Tuesday, 15 August 2023.

“Without fail, we will specifically meet Kiconco and he should come with the list of the beneficiaries, their bank details, amount of funds each one received and the National Identification Numbers,” said Akello.

She accused NAADS of being reluctant to ensure that Pathways Advocates provides accountability of funds received.

“You paid money to the lawyer to pay the farmers and these are NAADS farmers. NAADS has the responsibility to ensure farmers have received the money,” Akello said.

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