The Irish members of the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA) have strongly condemned the alleged misappropriation of aid funds intended for the Peace Recovery and Development Programme in Northern Uganda, uncovered in a special audit by Uganda’s Auditor General.
AWEPA’s Irish Section supports the Irish Government’s decision to suspend further aid payments until the matter is fully resolved.
“This whole story highlights the need for aid effectiveness – for governments, parliaments and NGOs to pull together to make sure that aid is well spent and doesn’t go missing,” said Denis Naughten TD, a senior adviser to AWEPA on Uganda.
“That is what has happened here – the Auditor General in Uganda has found that money has gone missing at the Prime Minister’s office and he has blown the whistle. He carried out a special audit, in forensic detail, and it is hoped that the money can now be recovered.
“Until then, the Irish government is right to suspend aid to Uganda and wait until the matter is fully resolved and the money recovered. They need to ask all the hard questions and get answers.”
Mr Naughten also expressed his concern that the alleged misappropriation of a total of €12 million in funding to Uganda, donated by Ireland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, could undermine the overall value of emergency, development and governance work throughout the region.
“This affair does not mean that all aid to African governments and to Irish organisations in Africa is not effective or not worth supporting,” he said. “I understand the effects of war and conflict in northern Uganda and the work that is being done there to rebuild communities is really inspiring.
“Some of Ireland’s brightest, bravest and most committed people are working in areas like northern Uganda and that is why we need anti-corruption systems like this to support them – to make sure money is not wasted or lost.”
Head of the Irish Section of AWEPA, Maureen O’Sullivan TD, called for the closest examination of all the facts surrounding this case so that Irish overseas aid is fully protected. She also said it was a cause of some relief that that the Auditor General of Uganda, whose role Ireland has supported, uncovered the affair.
“The Auditor General’s function was specifically supported by Irish Aid in Uganda in recent years. The bulk of Irish Aid money in 2011 was spent on governance (€9.67m), including anti-corruption and strengthening public financial management, most specifically the Auditor General’s position,” she pointed out.
“I have travelled to a number of Irish Aid countries and I have seen first-hand the positive effects that our aid is having.