Interview: Bigirimana Says OPM Report “Unfair”, “Harsh”

help geneva; font-size: small;”>The leaked report pins the Accounting Officer, who was recently transferred to the Gender Ministry on negligence and failure to detect the fraud that saw government lose shs50bn in 2011 and 2012.

Chimp Corp Kenneth Kazibwe (CR) caught up with Bigirimana (PB) on Tuesday.


CR: Parliament made a recommendation number 32 that you be held responsible for the diversion of funds from the Norwegian support to PRDP North Account in OPM.

PB: This is unfair. This is because the Permanent Secretary requested for the money from the Accountant General on the understanding that the funds were for the implementation of the Humanitarian Emergency Action Plan activities which PRDP inherited.


It therefore goes that the Accountant General as a technical advisor was in a better position to advise on and decide whether the funds were to be sent first to the Consolidated Fund before it could be sent to OPM or not.

CR: PAC also says you should be held liable for negligence of duty in executing your responsibilities under Integrated Financial Management Systems:

PB: This is rather harsh. This is because the officials in the Ministry of Finance had given the responsibility of approval of payments to the former Principle Accountant (Mr. Kazinda Godfrey) since 2007 to 2012.

From what has been unearthed this arrangement was quite sophisticated and it would only call for a special, serious and down to earth audit such as the one carried out to expose the network.

The fact that that sophisticated fraud had been done on IFM does not necessarily mean that the Accounting Officers were and are not competent in operating the IFMs.

In fact the solution should instead be to plug the loopholes related to the systems which have and are likely to be abused by the technical officers in Ministry of Finance and by all other IFMs users.

CR: MPS recommend you should be held liable for spending funds that were not appropriated to OPM.

PB: I find this is unfair since there is all evidence to show that I had requested for the money from Ministry of Finance and was assured by the then PA Kazinda Geoffrey that the funds which had been deposited on the account were the ones that was requested.

It was after the audit was carried out that it was found that the funds were fraudulently put on the account.

CR: But MPs say you diverted PRPD funds to procure vehicles for the Prime Minister and other Ministries at OPM:

PB: This is really unfair given the fact that there is written evidence to show that I wrote to Finance requesting for the said money but Finance advised that I should use any money within the OPM account.

Since the procurement process was followed and the vehicles were available, the PS should not be blamed for the omission.

CR: In their report, MPs pin you for diverting of PRDP funds from the UK /UG post conflict account.

PB: This is not true. The fact of the matter is that due to the emergency in the implementation of cattle branding in Karamoja, internal borrowing was done from UK/UG post conflict project with a view of paying back the money.

Indeed the funds were paid back from the funds that had been taken as genuine. It only turned out after the forensic audit had been made that the funds were fraudulently deposited on the crisis management account.

Cr: How about the diversion of PRDP funds to procure a ferry on Lake Bisina and pay FEIL for ploughing in Karamoja?

PB: This is also unfair. This is because as earlier explained the funds that were paid for the ferry were paid for by Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development on an understanding that the funds were meant for the Humanitarian Emergency Action Plan activities and since the Accountant General went ahead and sent the money to OPM, it was taken as funds due to the office.

The PS therefore took it that the funds were meant for that purpose and expended it on those activities which were under the EHAP and PRDP related.

CR: Is it true that you approved imprest withdrawals over and above authorized monthly limit?

Pb: The authority received from Ministry of finance provided for that.

CR: MPs said in their report that the accounting officer be held liable for failure to secure accountability documents.

Pb: The Principal Accountant is the one mandated to keep custody of financial documents. During the police investigations there was clear evidence to show that the former PA Mr. Godfrey Kazinda was smuggling documents outside the office and some of them were kept at his home.

Where there has been clear evidence on where the source of loss of financial documents, the blame should not be heaped on the accounting officer but rather to the officer who was responsible.

CR: An investigation by MPs showed that the 54 Acholi chiefs houses were unsatisfactory with incomplete and abandoned works and equipment with several defects ranging from cracked wall, leaking roofs and unplastered inner walls, unfitting doors and windows.

PB: This is absolutely not true. The fact of the matter is like any other constructions that involve the use of local communities, the houses may not have measured up to the standard of a Kampala house, but under the circumstances, the construction took place, the houses are generally good as highlighted in the IGG’s report.

The defects which PAC saw were on only two to houses out of the five they visited. The conclusion does not reflect the position of all the 54 houses.

Some defects that were seen on the houses have been attributed to the poor handling by the owners and these defects have been addressed by OPM in collaboration with the staff of the office of the Paramount Chief of Acholi.

It is a Hydraform design not to plaster the internal walls and it not true that the internal walls were built without a foundation. It is also not true that the houses were built without a slab. The conclusion therefore is that the houses were built without value for money is not true.

Although the committee recommended that an engineering audit should be carried out on the houses, there are already technical reports arising from inspection of the houses which have been issued by Ministry of Works and Transport and Hydraform International South Africa the owners of the technology.

The IGG also carried out an inspection and investigation on the houses and issued a report.

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