The Ministry of Trade has submitted a petition to President Museveni and Speaker of Parliament Annet Anita Among, seeking their intervention in an ongoing dispute between ministry officials and the parliamentary trade committee. The ministry expressed concerns that the disagreement might impact its budget performance for the 2024/25 financial year.
The dispute arose when the parliamentary trade committee suspended the scrutiny of the ministry’s budget estimates indefinitely, citing alleged corruption scandals. The Permanent Secretary, Geraldine Ssali, was accused of misappropriating UGX 8 billion earmarked for renting office space at Kampala Kingdom.
Minister Francis Mwebesa and other trade ministry officials faced resistance from committee members during the presentation of the budget estimates. The committee chairperson, Mwine Mpaka, expressed reservations about allocating resources to a ministry under investigation. The committee recommended Ssali’s dismissal, but the directives were reportedly ignored.
In response, committee members declined to scrutinize the budget and suggested that the ministry seek intervention from President Museveni. State Minister for Trade Harriet Ntabaazi revealed in an interview that the ministry is actively addressing the situation. She confirmed that an urgent meeting led by Senior Minister Mwebesa was held, and the matter was forwarded to Prime Minister Robina Nabbanjja for the intervention of President Museveni and Speaker of Parliament Among.
Ntabaazi emphasized the importance of resolving the issue promptly, expressing concerns that the refusal to scrutinize the budget could adversely impact the country’s economy. She noted that the trade and tourism sectors play a crucial role in the country’s economic performance.
The dispute follows President Museveni’s decision at the end of last year to reject Parliament’s recommendation for the removal of Geraldine Saali as the accounting officer for the Ministry of Trade. During investigations, Saali defended the use of the funds, stating that the money was utilized for Farmers House renovations, saving the government from incurring additional rent expenses.