Tackling corruption in Uganda
When in October 2012 the Auditor General in Uganda reported that funds from Ireland and other donors meant for the development of northern Uganda had gone missing, Irish Aid acted quickly and decisively.
The Tanaiste suspended all Irish Aid funding through government systems in Uganda. The Government of Uganda has since refunded in full the €4 million of Irish Aid funding which was misappropriated. A number of people were prosecuted for the fraud, with six convictions. The penalties handed down ranged from fines to a five year prison sentence. Our current programme in Uganda is channelled through non-governmental organisations and the UN system.
Our commitment to accountability
The quick action taken in response to the corruption in Uganda is an example of how we take our responsibility for the proper and efficient use of Irish taxpayers’ money seriously. We put accountability at the heart of our aid programme. It entails the building of strong transparency and accountability in the countries in which we work.
Our approach in Uganda
In Uganda, Irish Aid has been supporting measures to enhance accountability and tackle corruption in a number of important ways including:
- Support for effective Public Financial Management systems, where systems are put in place and capacities built to ensure the efficient and effective management of government spending
- Support for strong oversight over Government spending, for example, through supporting the work of the Office of the Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament
- Support for strengthened local government budgeting and reporting
- Support for a strong legal framework and the development of law and order institutions in Uganda, for example the Anti-Corruption Court and the Director of Public Prosecutions
- Support for the role of civil society in holding the Government of Uganda to account
- Support for a free and independent media in Uganda, which is playing a meaningful watchdog role
These efforts are working
Efforts have been ongoing in these ways to improve the prevention, detection and sanctioning of corruption.
The recent fraud case shows that even when Public Financial Management systems are robust, weaknesses can occur. But is also shows that when monies are corrupted, the systems are in place to detect that and bring it to official and public attention.
Irish Aid support for the Office of the Auditor General, who uncovered this corruption, has been critical in that regard. And Irish Aid support for the justice system, which is now prosecuting those responsible, is equally as important.