Drama ensued in the budget committee sitting at Parliament today, when two Ministers clashed with the chairperson of the Uganda Land Commission-ULC over a 12.1 billion Shillings request to settle outstanding compensation to six beneficiaries, under the Land Fund.
The minister’s Beti Kamya and Persis Namuganza were facing off with the Land Commission boss Beatrice Byenkya Nyakaisiki following a decision by parliament to halt the compensation whose funding had been requested through a supplementary budget.
Some of the beneficiaries on the list include Kasiya Rwabukurukuru with land at Kiyunga, Sheema (6.43 billion), Stephen Peter Nagenda of Kibale, Rwanswa (1.06 billion Shillings) and Julius Busuulwa of Buyaga in Kibaale (1.4 billion Shillings). Others are Natalia Namuli (1.6 billion Shillings), Yisaka Lwakana (125.3 million Shillings) and Mugisha Geoffrey (1.49 billion Shillings), all with land at Buyaga, Kibaale.
Byenkya had earlier written a letter to Parliament accusing the Ministry of Lands of not involving her commission in the matter. She said that although her commission was responsible for the compensations, it was not privy to information about the beneficiaries and the processes that led to their compensation.
Today Byenkya protested what she described as selective compensation of landowners demanding that the money should be untagged to allow her commission come up with another list. Byenkya who was flanked by the ULC Accounting Office Dorcus Omaria said over 500 claimants are yet to be compensated.
The Budget Committee learnt that in total, the Commission would need 1.7 trillion Shillings to pay all pending claimants.
“Why these six claimants only, Yes, we need the money but it should be untagged so that we decide on whom to give it. Why do you select only these six who we have actually been paid before?” she asked. According to the Budget Committee report presented to Parliament on Tuesday, the six beneficiaries had earlier received partial compensation and the budgeted funds are for clearance.
But Ministers Kamya and Namuganza insisted that the already presented list of six beneficiaries should be considered first since they have been cleared by the Ministry of Lands following a presidential directive. Kamya said that ULC can always present a supplementary budget request for the other claimants.
Kabula County MP James Kakooza and Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal sided with the ULC Chairperson saying that the request before them was irregular and that Parliament should not be seen supporting irregularities.
Following their failure to build consensus, Budget Committee Vice Chairperson Patrick Isiagi dismissed the officials from the Ministry of Lands saying that his Committee would come up with a recommendation. And when they vacated the room, Byenkya accused the Ministers of usurping the ULC powers and undermining the Commission’s mandate.
“The ministers are supposed to supervise but they want to manage the operations of the Commission. That is why when I saw this request, I ran quickly and blocked the approval. The Political leadership is trying to usurp our powers,” said Byenkya.
Namuganza, in turn, accused Beatrice Byenkya of failing to understand her position in the Ministry.