Three transport officers from the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives have been handed over to the police for their alleged involvement in the forgery of fuel cards, resulting in a loss of 357 million shillings through fuel swaps.
The decision to take this action was made following the irregular multiple withdrawals of fuel at the Bukoto Total Energy station on July 30, 2022.
Chairperson of the Committee on Trade, Industry, and Tourism, Mwine Mpaka, confirmed the development expressing concern over the misuse of government funds.
“The irregular withdrawal of fuel and the subsequent loss of public funds is unacceptable. We take this matter seriously and have handed over the three officers to the police for further investigation.” Stated Mwine
In the Tuesday committee meeting, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Geraldine Ssali Busulwa, clarified that the expenses for transporting the Ministry documents from Farmers House in Kampala to Entebbe amounted to 59.3 million shillings, contrary to earlier allegations of 400 million shillings.
However, it was also revealed that some Ministry staff have been receiving more fuel than the ministers themselves, prompting concerns about the mismanagement of fuel within the Ministry.
Surprisingly, Ssali also discovered that some ministers were not receiving their monthly fuel entitlements. She presented documents showing the fuel consumption of the Ministers, with Senior Minister Francis Mwebesa having received fuel worth 39 million shillings, State Minister for Trade Harriet Ntabazi 59.2 million shillings, State Minister for Industry David Bahati 41.9 million shillings, and State Minister for Cooperatives Fred Ngobi Gume 43 million shillings.
“I was shocked to learn from the media that some of our ministers were not receiving their monthly fuel allocations. We will address this issue promptly and ensure that the distribution of fuel is fair and transparent,” Ssali remarked.
The forgery of fuel cards led to a heated debate within the committee, with officers at the Ministry accusing each other of being behind the fraudulent scheme.
According to official documents, the 357 million shillings were withdrawn at Bukoto Total Energy using fuel cards belonging to the three officers in question. These officers were only entitled to 500,000 shillings worth of fuel per month.
Representatives from Total Energy, while defending their position, stated that some clients had chosen to withdraw money instead of fuel at their stations, adding a new dimension to the investigation.
As the police begin their probe, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives is under increased scrutiny to address the mismanagement of fuel and ensure accountability within its ranks.