Parliament orders CAO to refund sh 328 million paid in error

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Local Government has ordered the former  Kaabong Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Joel Musisi to refund Sh328 million he unlawfully paid to an ‘elusive’ contractor. 

The Committee members reached the decision after Musisi admitted that he erred while disbursing the funds to the contractor. 

He was appearing before the Committee led by Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the Gulu City Bardege-Layibi Division to respond to the irregularities in the payment on Tuesday. 

The probe relates to variances unearthed by the Auditor General during the Finance Year 2020/2021. 

The report implicated Musisi for signing two separate invoices authorizing payment amounting to Sh 328 million to Jacqsen Uganda Limited for the construction of the District Council Chambers.

 Musisi had irregularly signed the first invoice on June 16th, 2021 to authorize payment of Sh73 million as 20 percent of the total contract sum in the first installment, which was disbursed to the contractor on June 22nd, 2021. 

Six days later, the CAO again signed the second invoice for the last payment of Shillings 255.607 million.

However, for more than a year now the construction of Kabong District Council Chambers has never commenced, and neither has the contractor been on the ground. 

Musisi who has since been transferred to Kitgum District denied the accusations of being elusive.

He asked the Committee to give him three months to allow him ample time to compel the contractor to be on-site and complete the pending engineering work.

It also emerged that three extension periods were afforded to the contractor to start and complete the work in vain. 

Ibrahim Akorio, the Acting Kaabong District Engineer revealed to the Committee that the CAO coerced him to sign the Interim Performance Certificate to pay Jacqsen Uganda Limited 10 days before the expiry of the contract.

Okorio also disclosed to the MPs that the land on which the Chambers is to be constructed belongs to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and its owners have not transferred it to the District.

He also said soil sample results discouraged the progress of the project on the land in question because of its unsuitability but the CAO did not heed to the technical directive.

The Acting Engineer further described the contract bidding process as a sham. 

He noted that three contractors bid to offer their services at Sh930 million, Sh 600 million, and Sh375 million respectively but the CAO preferred the latter.

Rwemulikya Ibanda, the Ntoroko MP and  Kumi District woman MP, and Christine Apolot, were shocked by the revelation and accused Musisi of being the contractor himself who won the bid to pursue his selfish interest of defrauding the Government. 

Ben Komumanya, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, who attended the probe, faulted Musisi for financial liability in disregard of Article 64 of the Constitution.

 Komumanya said other officers including Akorio, and Filister Comfort Akol, the Acting Chief Finance Officer will be punished for professional liabilities.

In his ruling, the Committee Chairperson directed Musisi to refund the money by October 12th, 2022 before handing him over to the Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Department – CIID at Parliament for further questioning.

Musisi, who has been in service for 26 years since 1996 is among the 110 Accounting Officers and Municipal Town Clerks across the country whose names have been seconded for termination from the public service for breaching financial guidelines. 

In his July 7, letter to the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Local Government, the Permanent Secretary to the treasury, Ramadhan Ggoobi sacked the affected CAOs and Municipal Town Clerks accusing them of failing to comply with the Public Finance Management Act of 2015 to submit their annual budgets of 2022/23 within the required time frame.


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