MPs demand Land Fund utilisation report from Minister

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Members of Parliament on the committee of Physical Infrastructure have asked the Ministry of Lands to avail a report on how the Land Fund was spent in the 2018/2019 financial year.

Led by Kasilo County MP, Elijah Okupa and Butaleja West MP, James Waluswaka, the committee on Tuesday demanded to know how 41 billion shillings allocated to the fund was put to use. Officials from the ministry led by the new Minister Beti Kamya had appeared before MPs to present the ministry’s budget framework paper.

The fund was created by the Land Act, 1998 as a multipurpose fund to mainly correct historical land injustices dating back to the colonial times.

According to reports, among the beneficiaries of the fund for financial year, 2018/2019 are the Registered trustees of Kampala Archdiocese that received shillings 7.9 billion, Matthew Gureme 1 billion shillings and Deborah Kakiiza Winifred 200 million shillings.

Bubulo West MP, Rose Mutonyi says that the lands ministry should provide the number of beneficiaries already compensated and those demanding payment.

Koboko County MP, James Baba says the list should have provided specific details such as names of the beneficiaries, location and size of land compensated.

The lands minister, Beti Kamya told the committee that the ministry released shillings 36 billion to 69 beneficiaries in 2018/2019 financial year.

However, Okupa noted that Kamya had submitted a list of beneficiaries instead of a utilization report.  Kamya promised she will submit the utilization before the end of the week.

The minister of state for Lands, Persis Namuganza says that funds requires an annual 170 billion shillings for ten years.

She explained that if the government continues allocating 23 billion shillings annually to the fund, it will take close to 80 years to pay all beneficiaries who are close to 8,000.

The Land Fund was supposed to be operationalized one year after the enactment of the Land Act, 1998. However, this has not been done to date.

Therefore, it is currently provided for through the Uganda Land Commission to run activities of the Land Fund.

In the past, there have been complaints about the administration of the Land Fund.

In 2018, then Minister for Lands, Betty Amongi was asked by the Commission of Inquiry into Land matters to explain the difficulties experienced in the creation of the fund saying failures defeat the motive of creating the fund.

The lead counsel for the Land Probe, Ebert Byenkya noted that land Fund had been paid sometimes to imposters, while ministry officials have been soliciting money from the beneficiaries.

Source: The Independent

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