The minister of Finance Planning and economic development, Hon. Matia Kasaija has hailed the role played so far by the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA).
The Authority, which has been in operation since 2014, is responsible for combating and preventing money laundering in the country and enforcing compliance by responsible persons with requirements of the FIA Act.
The Minister remarked today that prior to the establishment of the Authority, Uganda was like an ugly girl because investors were scared of coming into the country.
He noted that FIA saved the country from being blacklisted internationally due to lack of measures to prevent money laundering.
“When you get blacklisted, no one comes to invest in your country. Nobody lends you money as a country and the economy slowly collapses. Uganda was seen like an ugly girl but we are now rated as one of the beautiful girls,” he said.
The minister made the remarks on Tuesday while commissioning the four board members of FIA who he reappointed.
These are; Leo Kibirang (chairman), Patrick Ocailap, AIGP Grace Akullo and Patrica Mutesi; all of who took an oath of allegiance before the minister at the Ministry of Finance offices.
Speaking at the event, Leo Kibirango the newly appointed president of FIA thanked President Yoweri Museveni president and government for the trust they placed in them “to oversee the important task of implementing the mandate of financial intelligence authority.”
He went on to promise cooperation among his team with all stakeholders to identify loopholes in the law and in order to prevent criminals from benefiting from financial crime.
The appointed board is the governing authority of FIA. Each member serves three years, and is eligible for re-appointment for one more term of three years in accordance with section 26 of the Act.
This board is serving its second term. Members were all vetted and approved by parliament.
Former director of Supervision for Commercial banks at Bank of Uganda, Justine Bagyenda was among those earlier appointed but she snubbed the vetting process.
Bagyenda’s appointment caused uproar especially from lawmakers. The argument was that she couldn’t be a board member of the FIA yet it is the same Authority investigating her for alleged collusion while at Central Bank.
Minister Kasaija and other appointed board members were reluctant to discuss questions regarding Bagyenda.
Kasaija commended the board members for a job well done in their previous tenure and urged them to work even harder. He mentioned that there are detractors who are trying to undermine the work of the Authority, but he advised members not to be fazed.
Leo Kibirango said that there is going to be a campaign in the near future to educate masses about the role of FIA, and ways to combat money laundering.