Uganda to refund misappropriated aid funds

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore at the opening of Ireland’s CTBTO National Data Center. Gilmore has welcomed the Ugandan government’s decision to repay misused Irish aid funds, but stressed the suspension on direct aid to the country still holds. Photo by: Laura Leonard / CTBTO

Ireland has welcomed Uganda’s assurances that it will repay in full the €4 million ($5.1 million) worth of Irish aid lost to alleged misappropriation. Direct Irish aid to the Uganda government, however, will remain suspended.

Ireland halted its payments to the Ugandan government this year after the African country’s auditor general uncovered that some €12 million from donors was channeled to unauthorized bank accounts by officials in the office of the prime minister, the Bank of Uganda and the finance ministry.

Uganda also lost direct aid from the United Kingdom and Denmark over the alleged fraud, which is currently under investigation. Ireland and Denmark have asked Uganda to repay their share of the misused funds.

The Ugandan government has responded favorably to the request, according to Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore. He welcomed the decision, as well as the country’s commitment to review its internal control mechanisms. Gilmore added that he will look at ways to help boost the capacity of the African country’s auditor general office and related agencies.

Uganda Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi himself reiterated his government’s intention to repay its donors and swiftly resolve the issue. The repayment will be made once the exact amount of money lost is determined, the prime minister said, according to New Vision.

The prime minister explained that the government will shoulder repayment in the meantime, but would bill involved officials once proven in court that they indeed channeled aid funds to their private accounts.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.