Norway’s zero tolerance on corruption forces Uganda to pay back misused aid funds
Posted by African Press International on February 8, 2013
Uganda has transferred NOK 23 million to Norway in repayment for aid funds that had been misappropriated. Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås commented, “This is the largest single repayment we have ever received.”
“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.
Uganda has now repaid the misused funds which amounted to NOK 23 million (UGX 11 billion).
“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,” said Mr Holmås.
It was last autumn that 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 documented that around NOK 80 million had been misused, NOK 23 million of which were from Norway. This money should have been used to help people in northern Uganda who were poverty-stricken after years of conflict and misrule.
“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.
“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,” said Mr Holmås.
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.