The government is struggling to force corrupt officials to drop their loot, Ethics and Integrity minister, Rose Lilly Akello has said.
Inspectorate of Government (IG) report, the country loses over Shs 20 trillion to corruption every year but according to Akello, only Shs 100 billion was salvaged from corrupt officials in one year.
The biggest haemorrhage is caused by lost taxation (Shs 131 billion), user fees on utilities (Shs 459 billion) forfeited revenue from natural resources (Shs 820 billion), bungled enforcement leading to environmental degradation (Shs 15 billion), and absenteeism in government departments (Shs 2 billion). Others are corruption in the provision of healthcare and education services (Shs 451 billion), graft in security provision (Shs 86 billion), and procurement and budgeting regulation (Shs 233 billion).
In a statement to parliament, Akello says efforts to recover stolen funds and property from the corrupt are proving futile. For example, the IG flagged Shs 18.2 billion as proceeds of crime that ought to be returned to public coffers, the minister told parliament that only Shs 7 billion has been recovered.
The Office of the Auditor General carried out 6,268 financial compliance audits, 23 value-for-money audits, 101 specialised engineering audits, 85 forensics special audits and nine IT audits over the last three financial years. Of these, Shs 175 billion is due to be returned to the taxpayer, but so far only Shs 4 billion in cash and assets has been recovered from the corrupt.
For the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), after prosecuting a record 261 graft cases and getting 110 convictions, only Shs 10 billion, $16,000 and malaria drugs valued at Shs 28 million were salvaged. The Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) scoured through 318 cases, presenting 56 files to the DPP, and 23 files were fit for prosecution, salvaging only Shs 615 million back to the taxpayer.
At least Shs 41.6 billion of stolen Covid-19 funds was recovered from government officials but several billions remain unsalvaged.
“The State House Anti-Corruption Unit recovered a total amount of Shs 41.6 billion, of which Shs 9.6 billion was from inflated Covid-19 relief food prices; Shs 4.5 billion from local governments; Shs 3.6 billion from inflated compensation of Bukasa inland port affected persons and Shs 2.9 billion worth of drugs which had been stolen from Joint Medical Stores was recovered,” said Akello.
The Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) reported that Shs 6.4 billion earned through corruption is still in the hands of thieving officials awaiting prosecution.
At the Leadership Code Tribunal, corrupt officials opted to use alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, where they offered to return Shs 10.9 billion, out of which only Shs 5.9 billion has hit government’s escrow account at Bank of Uganda.