Bank transfers pin Education PS on ‘diverted’ UPE fund
An investigation into alleged diversion of Ministry of Education funds has obtained bank transfer details showing how more than Shs155 million was allegedly misallocated by Mr Francis Xavier Lubanga, the Education permanent secretary.
The transfers were made under the guise of funds for primary schools emergency construction and rehabilitation, some dating as far back as July 2008.
According to documents obtained by this newspaper, the most recent transfer was done on March 31, 2011, when Shs103.5 million meant for primary school furniture was transferred to a Centenary Bank account held by St. Gyaviira Nursery School.
In an interview with Sunday Monitor, Mr Lubanga denied any wrong doing and said no diversion of funds has ever been done. He blamed the commission for being incompetent and peddling lies.
“If they had asked me to explain they would have gotten correct information. These payments were made after Parliament approved the activities in the ministry’s ministerial policy statement,” Mr Lubanga said.
“The Shs103 million came from an Incentive Grant account named furniture for primary schools,” the PS added.
Investigators obtained an April 30, 2009 letter authored by a Parish Priest (names withheld) from the Mwereerwe Catholic Parish to Mr Lubanga.
The author thanks the PS for “the great work” he “was doing for the nation” and for his ministry’s “donation of Shs19, 072,000 to the Mwereerwe Catholic Parish meant for St. Gyaviira Nursery School.”
According to the letter, the money was to be used “to complete the nursery school building to promote early childhood education”.
Mr Lubanga acknowledges authorising the transfers but argued that the school applied for assistance to the ministry and they were approved. “The approval was taken to Parliament and it was passed,” Mr Lubanga said. He could not, however, explain how a nursery school was able to access funds meant for a primary school.
At the time of the transfer of funds, the school was also not licensed to operate, thus could not have been scheduled to receive government money.
The guidelines for free education indicate that only government-aided schools running the Universal Primary Education scheme and only private secondary schools who have signed an agreement with government should receive the school facilitation grant.
A copy of the ministerial policy statement obtained by this newspaper shows the school was in fact approved by Parliament to receive funding under a project code 0943 titled Emergency Construction of Primary Schools.
A senior education officer is said to have visited the nursery school and advised its administrators on “what was missing” before the school could be licensed.
In the letter, the author even asks for more money, promising the PS ‘prayers’. Another transfer to the same school of Shs32 million on October 26, 2009 has also been unearthed. The commission is also investigating three other suspicious transactions believed to have been engineered by Mr Lubanga