11 February 2013
Last autumn the Office of the Auditor General of Uganda exposed the misuse and embezzlement of international aid funds by corrupt officials in the Ugandan administration.
It was announced that a massive 80 million Norwegian NOK had been misused, 23 million of which came from Norway.
According to the Report, this money was meant to have been used by the government to help people in northern Uganda who were left poverty-stricken, after years of conflict and misrule.
But the good news is that the Norwegian government is refusing to condone or turn a blind eye on corruption in Africa. The Ugandan government was last week forced to repay the NOK 23 million stolen from the cash strapped Norwegian tax payer.
The Norwegian Minister of International Development – Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås said:
“This is the largest single repayment of misused funds that we have received. It sends an important signal to other donors and to the people of Uganda that the country has to take the fight against corruption seriously.
“I expect to see a renewed will to fight corruption in every form, particularly cases involving corruption at the very top of the government apparatus.
“One positive element in all this is that it was the Office of the Auditor General of Uganda itself that exposed the misuse of funds. This shows that modern development cooperation works. It’s not enough that we have strict routines for controlling the use of aid funds.”
“The recipient countries themselves must be able to expose misuse and address it. Norway’s support for the Office of the Auditor General of Uganda has clearly been worthwhile,” said Mr. Holmås.
Uganda has met its obligations under its agreement with Norway and other donors by paying back all the funds that have been misused.
He further stated: “I expect the Ugandan Government to do its utmost to rebuild confidence in the time ahead. The repayment of the misused funds is an important step in this direction.”
“Norway practises zero tolerance for corruption. We therefore demanded that all the misused funds were repaid and those responsible brought to justice. All forms of corruption can be seen as stealing from the poor,” said Mr Holmås.
(Photo: President Museveni’s multi-million dollar car)
Norwegian aid to the Ugandan Government has been stopped. After the discovery of the misuse of these funds, Norway undertook an additional review of the use of Norwegian funds in the first two years of the programme.
Norway discontinued its support to the programme in 2011. Norway’s general budget support to Uganda had already ceased in 2010.
In Sierra Leone, over $1 million of funds grant-aided to the government by Bill Gates to help combat childhood diseases were stolen. A few weeks later, the government, rather than repaying the missing million, made an unbelievable decision itself to grant-aid a whopping one million dollars to the military government in Mali.
Where did the government of Sierra Leone get the money, to display such unaffordable generosity – a country classed as one of the poorest in the world?
Will other international aid donors to countries such as Sierra Leone, emulate the Norwegian government’s tough stance against corruption, or is it going to be business as usual?
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