Ireland suspends aid to Uganda as €4m goes missing

26 Oct 12
The Irish government has begun a full investigation into the alleged misappropriation of up to €4m of development aid it had given to the Ugandan government.

By Nick Mann | 26 October 2012

The Irish government has begun a full investigation into the alleged misappropriation of up to €4m of development aid it had given to the Ugandan government.

Deputy head of government (Tánaiste) Eamon Gilmore announced yesterday that all Irish aid channelled through the Ugandan government had also been suspended due to the allegations of fraud by the Office of the Prime Minister of the East African country.

The moves come after Uganda’s auditor general discovered significant financial mismanagement by the Office of a programme aimed at rebuilding Northern Uganda after decades of conflict.

Gilmore, who is also foreign affairs and trade minister, said: ‘I am deeply concerned by what I have learned today of the findings of the investigation by the auditor general of Uganda into the management of aid funds by the Office of the Prime Minister of Uganda. 

‘At this stage, it seems clear that funding provided last year by Ireland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark for the rebuilding of Northern Uganda, a region which has suffered dreadfully from internal conflict and the ravages of Joseph Kony and his so-called Lord’s Resistance Army, was transferred to unauthorised accounts in the Office of the Prime Minister.’

He added: ‘Ireland’s aid programme is strongly focused on the poorest people and communities in sub-Saharan Africa and we have robust systems in place for the oversight and monitoring of our aid funding. I regard it as intolerable that any development assistance should be misappropriated or diverted.’ 

No further aid funding will be provided through Ugandan government systems until it is clear that Irish money is being spent on its intended purpose, he stressed.

A team of Irish officials led by government auditors will now travel to Uganda to investigate the matter in conjunction with the other donors, with the aim of reporting back to Gilmore next week.

The minister paid tribute to the work of the Ugandan auditor general in carrying out such a thorough investigation.  

‘While the findings of the auditor general in this case are deeply disturbing, the fact that the auditor general is now in a position to make them is a demonstration of the increased capacity and determination of elements within the Ugandan administration to enforce accountability for the use of government and donor money,’ he said. ‘It is only by building accountable systems such as this that the blight of corruption can be eliminated.’

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