MPs Demand Law Firm to Account for UGX39 Billion

Patrick Kiconco Katabbazi, the proprietor of Pathways Advocates has been given a five-day ultimatum to account for 39 billion Shillings advanced to his law firm to compensate 142 Kigezi tea nursery bed farmers.

The affected tea nursery operators in the districts of Kabale, Rukungiri, Kanungu, Kisoro, Rubanda, Rukiga, Ntungamo, Mitoma, Mbarara, and Isingiro had sued the Government for failure to procure their seedlings following a presidential pledge in 2008.

In response, the Government through the National Agriculture Advisory Services – NAADS paid the law firm to compensate in an out-court dispute settlement.

Eddie Kwizera, the Bukimbiri County Member of Parliament in Kisoro District raised an alarm that out of the 142 beneficiaries from Kisoro, he randomly sampled five beneficiaries who were purported to have been paid but they confessed they had not received any money.

However, Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (PAC-COSASE) which has commenced a probe into the operations of NAADS tasked Samuel Mugasi, the Executive Director of the entity to explain the anomaly.

The committee is scrutinizing the report of the Auditor General on the financial statements of NAADS for the financial year 2021/2022.

Mugasi, while appearing before the Committee on Thursday tabled evidence confirming that NAADS disbursed the money in two installments of 27 billion and 12 billion Shillings respectively to Katabbazi’s law firm to effect the farmers’ compensation.

But Ronald Ndyomugenyi, the Rukiga County Representative observed that while NAADS Secretariat has evidence that the money was disbursed to Pathways Advocates, the farmers have not been paid.

Ndyomugenyi explained that in spite of a consent judgment with all the names of the tea nursery bed operators, the lawyer did not provide accountability to NAADS to confirm what each beneficiary farmer received but gave block figures for sub-regions.

It prompted the Committee’s Vice Chairperson, Lucy Akello, also the Amurur District Woman Representative to summon Katabbazi to appear before the committee on Tuesday 15 August 2023 without fail.

“We will specifically meet Katabbazi and he should come with the list of the beneficiaries, their bank details, the amount of funds each one received, and the National Identification Numbers,” Akello directed.

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