Legal Affairs committee chairperson also West Budama South MP Jacob Oboth Oboth, said the only viable option for government now, is to seek a loan and clear the huge figure which is attracting costly interests for government.
"Providing only Shs 9.35 billion per financial year, let us take it as a yardstick, is government prepared to pay the total arrears assuming no interest arises again from the Shs 657 billion? Is government prepared to pay in 74 years because if every financial year you’re paying Shs 9 billion, then it will take you 74 years to clear the arrears. Why can’t government borrow to pay because court awards are already debt. We’re borrowing here to do infrastructure?", said Oboth Oboth.
Otafiire pleaded with parliament to devise means of helping government to punish errant government officers whose indiscipline and character has caused government financial loss.
"The primary remedy to these court awards is ensuring that government doesn’t cause these court awards and that can be best done by governments and departments and agencies by ensuring that their officials don’t transgress on the rights of citizens and therefore cause court awards." said Otafiire.
Otafiire further told the committee that the ministry's main remedy to court awards accumulation is to have more state attorneys, judges, judicial officers and prosecutors whose inadequate number has been contributing to government loss of cases hence court awards.
The committee members asked the ministry to provide a list of court awards that originate from all government agencies. Solomon Muyita, the judiciary spokesperson, says in some cases, government breaches terms of contract which leads to the awards.
"When court awards someone, it takes long because government has to pay this money in phases, and so you find someone going five to ten years without getting compensated. And the money government releases to the ministry is never enough," says Muyita.