Masaka Loses UGX 290M Anually to Fraud

6427 Views Masaka, Uganda

In short
Joseph Kimbowa, the Masaka Town Clerk says poor collection mechanism stemming from lack of assets register is to blame for the poor local revenue collections.

Masaka municipality is losing close to 300 million Shillings in local revenue every financial year to fraudulent collections due to lack of an assets register, a loss that has stalled implementation of its five year development plan.

According to auditor general's report 2013/2014, Masaka municipality expected to collect local revenue amounting to 1,025,587,000.

It however realized 734,376,585 shillings only according to auditor general's report.

The municipality registered a shortfall of 291,210,415 shillings. 

The auditor general accused the municipality of flouting regulation 43 (2) of the Local Governments Financial and Accounting Regulation, 2007 which requires the head of finance to ensure that all revenue due to the council is promptly collected and banked intact.
Some of the major sources of local revenue in Masaka municipality are Masaka main taxi park contributing 40% of the local revenue, markets such as Masaka Central Market, Nyendo Market, Kijabweemi Market, Kyabakuza Market and Elgin Street Friday market.

These markets contribute 20% to the local revenue for Masaka municipality according to information obtained from Masaka municipality. Other sources of revenue are trading licenses, Hotel tax, boda boda riders, local service taxi, building permits among others.

Joseph Kimbowa, the Masaka Town Clerk says poor collection mechanism stemming from  lack of assets register is to blame for the poor local revenue collections. 

He explains that Masaka municipality does not have an assets register to cross check its collections against.

According to Kimbowa, the municipality does not know all its sources of revenue.

Kimbowa notes that there are gaps for example the manual collection of revenue from traders in which law enforcement officers move from shop to shop to collect the council revenue.

Kimbowa explains that the Municipality has realized that the three municipal officials in charge of revenue collection  use their own receipts. 

He claims that the officials, who he declined to name, do not bank the money to the municipality coffers.

He says they are investigating these fraud reports.

Kimbowa also notes that they are investigating reports that the Municipality physical department which is supposed to issue building permits is abusing it.

 He explains that although the municipality is supposed to get between 400000 Shillings to 1million shillings from building permits, the department is getting as less as 200000shillings which money does not even make it to the municipal coffers.

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The failure to effectively collect and bank that local revenue has stalled the five year development plan of Masaka Municipality, according to Godfrey Kayemba, the Masaka Mayor. 

He notes that when he took over the chair as Mayor, they underlined several projects to be implemented in his five years.

 He names some of the  projects in the five year development plan as  procurement of new garbage collection trucks, installation of street lights along all the streets, and  construction of garbage and waste recycling plant.

Other projects include rehabilitation of all public projects, rehabilitation of Masaka Mayor's chambers and reconstruction of Speke Road and Naludugavu street.
Kayemba says due to failure to hit the  local revenue collection target, the municipality is struggling to provide services.

He however says they have started documenting all assets in the municipality to know all the revenue sources for effective collection.

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Masaka residents are bitter that despite meeting tax payment obligation, there is no value for money.

Grace Makanga is a trader along Kitovu road in Nyendo-Ssenyange division. She says she pays 67000shillings every year for license. She however says despite paying the license fees, the municipality has failed to fix the poor drainage next to her shop.

John Lukwata, a restaurant owner in Nyendo claims uncollected garbage has attracted flies that are scaring away his customers.

Lukwata explains that although he tries to keep his Buddu restaurant environment clean, the municipality takes long to collect garbage a few meters from his restaurant.

Mathias Mpuuga, the Member of Parliament for Masaka Municipality accuses Masaka municipality of profiteering from lack of revenue collection  data base. He says he advised the municipality to establish an assets register in 2012 but they ignored his advice.

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Sarafino Olet, the Masaka Municipality physical planner and the municipality accounting team accused of fraud have declined to comment on allegations. Olet said it is only the town clerk that is mandated to speak to the media. 

This financial year, Masaka municipality approved a budget of 12.6 billion shillings. The municipality expects to collect 1.2billion shillings from local revenue.


About the author

Edward Bindhe
Bindhe prides himself on being a part of the society he writes about. He believes there is no way a journalist can understand his society unless it considers him a part of it. This is why he is dedicated to investigating the challenges of the "little person."

Bindhe says, "My work reflects the Uganda Radio Network unique approach to news." Not many Ugandan journalists would consider or even notice the re-emergence of Water Hyacinth on a lake. Bindhe does.

Truant children will attract Bindhe's attention until he gets to the bottom of their truancy: poverty and the need to work to earn bread for their families. These are the kinds of stories Bindhe is often after.

Edward Bindhe is the Masaka URN bureau chief. Rakai, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Kalangala, Mpigi, Kalungu, Bukomansimbi and Sembabule districts fall under his docket. He has been a URN staff member since 2009.

A Mass Communication graduate from Uganda Christian University, Bindhe started practising journalism in 2008 as a reporter for Radio Buddu in Masaka district.