Igg Should Expose Leaders’ Illicit Wealth

Igg should expose leaders’ illicit wealth
Appeared in The Daily Monitoron 25 Aug 2020

That the Inspector General of Government (IGG) has said they are working on a new strategy to unmask public leaders who hide undeclared wealth behind their children’s names is more than welcome news.

It is welcome because the country is bleeding from many fronts as a result of widespread corruption.

Uganda is the 137th least corrupt nation out of 175 countries, according to the 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International. Uganda’s best ranking on corruption was in 1996, when the country ranked 43, reaching an all-time high of 151 in 2016.

Some studies, such as the Global Integrity report, have over the years estimated that more than half of the government’s annual Budget is lost to corruption each year.

It is public knowledge that many public officials who feel their income or duration of employment is not in tandem with the property they own, use such tactics to avoid taxes and skirt financial oversight – and under-declare their wealth.

The tactics may vary. Those at the highest level of government and business usually stash wealth in offshore accounts or use their connections to hide wealth. For instance, recent reports by an international coalition of media outlets on an investigation with the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, brought to light details of offshore assets and services of politicians, businesses and celebrities.

In 2018, the then IGG, Justice Irene Mulyagonja, said most corrupt government officials were “hiding behind” the back of President Museveni and use their connection to the Head of State to defeat or escape justice.

This is why what the Deputy IGG George Bamugemereire said at the weekend needs every stakeholder’s support.

He said the IGG has submitted proposed amendments in the current law to Parliament seeking to expand the breaches, offences and punishment for telling lies and under-declaration of assets.

The Leadership Code Act as amended in 2017, which is in Parliament, seeks revision of some provisions to empower the Leadership Code Tribunal to take tougher action against leaders who under-declare their wealth or hide wealth behind their children or spouses.

We ask Parliament to fast-track this provision and give the IGG enough teeth to bite such public servants.

Corruption deprives the public of services such as health, education, roads, food, and energy. Yet also, illicit acquisition of wealth makes leaders ever yearning to enrich themselves at the expense of service delivery. This must stop.