MPs PROBE GHOST FUEL CARDS AT TRADE MINISTRY

Staff at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC) are being investigated over allegations of issuance and usage of ghost fuel cards.

This follows reports that millions of taxpayers money is being diverted for usage for ghost fuel cards by unscrupulous employees within the ministry.

Parliament’s Committee on Trade, Tourism and Industry chaired by Mr Mwine Mpaka (Mbarara City South) raised queries yesterday during an interface with a section of staff from the ministry.

Mr Mpaka, while quoting official documents, said during Financial Year 2022/2021, Shs357 million was integrated for use on fuel cards that were attached to three staff members.

“There is no staff in the ministry who can have Shs357 million on his card, even a minister cannot have that amount of fuel,” he said.

Other committee members expressed shock at the allocation.
But Mr Daniel Kasule, a former transport officer at the ministry, denied any mischief in the transaction.

“I don’t requisition for fuel. I rely on instructions from staff. My responsibility is to do the loading,” Mr Kasule said.

Mr Mpaka then revealed other transactions of fuel being misused by staff.
“The senior accountant in Bukoto [on the same day at different time intervals] put fuel worth Shs62,000, Shs250,000, Shs250,000, Shs480,000, Shs400,000, from the same petro station. What kind of fuel tank is?” he wondered.

Mr Daniel Mayieka, the managing director at Total Energies Marketing Uganda Limited, confirmed that it is possible to have these types of transactions.
“The vehicles will come to the station and then one by one they will fuel and as they fuel, they run the card,” Mr Mayieka said.

On his part, Mr Nelson Balyejusa, a senior accountant at MTIC, denied any wrong doing, and instead pinned the blame on other staff at the ministry.

“It is very painful when our names are in the papers, or social media when actually we are innocent. I have never received any card in this line. I only have two cards. One was blocked,” he said. Mr Balyejusa then proceeded to state that the cards that were mentioned [during the probe] have never been in his possession, including fuel card number 63820 with Shs41 million, card 77888 with Shs68 million and card 151774 with Shs100 million.

“My predecessor gave me card 162905, meaning that the card of Shs41 million is 63820 was created way before I joined the Ministry of Trade,” he said.

Ms Rosemary Asiimwe, the senior assistant secretary at MTIC who previously served as a transport officer for a period of two and half months, confirmed issues of ghost cards.

“I did issue fuel cards to staff who were not in possession of cards,” Ms Asiimwe said, adding: “When my predecessor was handing over office, in his handover report of fuel cards, it was surprising that my name was there Asiimwe Rosemary with a card but which I had never had [a card] in possession.”

Ms Asiimwe also confirmed there were also other cases of card names with users who were not in possession of them.

Mr Mpaka instructed that Ms Asiimwe, Mr Kasule and Mr Jackson Nabongho, the current transport officer at MTIC be taken to police to write statements over the fuel cards saga before being released on bond. 

The committee probe, which kicked off last month, is investigating, among other things, allegations of abuse of office and corruption at the Trade ministry.

A number of staff have already been questioned over the several allegations rocking the ministry. 

The probe follows allegations of mismanagement of a supplementary budget worth Shs54 billion that was approved by Parliament for the ministry during Financial year 2021/22.

Source; Daily Monitor

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