MPs on the public accounts committee on commissions, statutory authorities, and state enterprises (PAC-COSASE) have resolved to investigate recruitment irregularities in top positions at Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).
Concerns over the lack of national character in the senior positions at the tax body came to the limelight on Friday during the committee’s investigation of the operations of URA following a red flag raised by John Muwanga, the auditor general in his report for the FY 2021/2022.
During the meeting, the legislators led by their chairperson Joel Ssenyonyi revealed that the public has alarmed the committee on allegations of corruption, irregular recruitment, promotions, and cases of nepotism within URA.
In an earlier meeting with the committee on Thursday, URA commissioner general John Musinguzi Rujoki was tasked to provide a comprehensive list of the over 3,000 staff members employed by the authority.
It was during the assessment of this list that the lawmakers raised eyebrows. Ssenyonyi observed that according to the list furnished to the committee, out of the eight senior and highest-ranking officials at URA, six of them hailed from the western region of Uganda only, an outright regional imbalance in the country’s employment.
“Six out of the 8 are actually from one region of the country and it is a concern that some members are raising because we must make sure we keep our country together. Things like these become problematic. That is not a good thing. I don’t know what your comment is, mr commissioner general, it is not a representation of Uganda and it is a concern. I know sometimes people will say yes we picked competent and qualified people and that kind of thing, but it is important we keep this country together,” said Ssenyonyi.
In response, Musunguzi acknowledged the recruitment discrepancies but quickly attributed it to hidden historical factors, noting that the committee could investigate the matter further to satisfy their curiosity.
“Let’s not look on the outside, looks can be deceptive. Let’s interrogate these issues deeply and we’ll understand either the historical perspective or the importance of how we end up here. Just looking at the names and where they come from, yes it doesn’t paint a national character, but there are reasons for this,” said Musinguzi.
Nwoya District Woman MP, Judith Achan, and her counterpart, Muwada Nkunyinji of Kyadondo County East faulted URA for outright nepotism and lack of representation of the Muslims in the tax body’s top management respectively.
The committee resolved to summon the URA board of directors including the minister of Finance for a meeting scheduled for next week to address concerns of discrepancies in recruitment and promotions.
The top positions are in the commissioner general’s office, legal services & board affairs department, customs department, domestic taxes department, tax investigations department, corporate services department, information technology & innovation department, and internal audit department.
URA is a government revenue collection agency established by the parliament of Uganda. It is responsible for enforcing, assessing, collecting, and accounting for the various taxes imposed in Uganda, and it prides itself on patriotism, integrity, and professionalism as the core of its mandate.
Source : https://observer.ug/news/headlines/78526-commissioner-general-musinguzi-tells-mps-to-probe-reasons-not-nepotism-at-ura