Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authority and State Enterprise (COSASE) has Tuesday commenced investigations into the excess expenditures by Bank of Uganda in hiring private lawyers.
The committee Chairperson, Abdul Katuntu said that the decision to summon Bank of Uganda officials was arrived at after noticing that government was losing a lot of money to pay off private lawyers and yet the institution is facilitated by well-paid lawyers.
“Since 2013, the Bank has spent billions of shillings on hiring lawyers, this is taxi payers’ money yet every government institution was given a right to hire its own lawyers; we find no reason why Bank of Uganda would go outside to hire other lawyers,” Katuntu said.
Katuntu noted that, “What we would have expected is to see BOU seeking for legal help from the office of the Attorney General on any matter that is beyond their knowledge other than spending tax payers’ money hiring private lawyers.”
Katuntu observed that this would be allowed in case there are sophisticated cases that would require expertise that government doesn’t have but instead hire is done for simple cases that can be handled by internal lawyers.
During the Committee proceedings at which BOU delegation was led by Deputy Governor Louis Kasekende, it was revealed that the Central Bank paid out Shs61M in 2013/2014 and in the next financial year 2014/2015, the bank paid external lawyers Shs681M and in 2016/2017, Shs398M was reported to have been spent by June 2017.
The Committee was further interested in the details of payment to help it in policy recommendations adding that BOU lawyers might be incompetent hence the need to hire private lawyers.
However, Kasekende denied claims that the Central Bank’s nine member legal team was incompetent saying initially, the department was only made up of five lawyes, but due to the huge work load, the number had to be increased.
“We had agreed as Bank of Uganda to strengthen the legal department and we have recruited, the problem was the size was very small and the Department relied on external lawyers,” Kasekende explained.
The committee members were not convinced by Kasekende’s explanation and demanded that the officials provide documentary evidence of the amount of money that has so far been spent on external lawyers in the case involving Crane Bank.