Uganda Government to pay $4.5m ‘lodging fee’ for missing goats

By DAILY MONITOR/Africareview

Residents of Uganda's Tapac Sub-county in Moroto District watch over exotic breed goats distributed to them under a state programme. The Presidential Goats Project is under scrutiny by Parliament over mismanagement. STEPHEN ARIONG | DAILY MONITOR

Residents of Uganda’s Tapac Sub-county in Moroto District watch over exotic breed goats distributed to them under a state programme. The Presidential Goats Project is under scrutiny by Parliament over mismanagement. STEPHEN ARIONG | DAILY MONITOR

The man at the centre of Uganda’s missing goats scandal told Parliament Wednesday that he expects the government to pay him $4,469,697 (USh12 billion) in accommodation expenses for the animals.

Under the $2,681,070 (USh7.2 billion) Poverty Eradication Project, 3,023 hybrid goats were to be bought and given out to farmers as they multiplied, but close to 10 years later, the offspring are nowhere to be seen.

Summoned to explain the missing goats, Mr Paul Sembeguya admitted that the animals multiplied but instead stunned MPs when he said he expected to receive $4,469,697 as a “lodging fee” for accommodating the goats on his farm in Sembabule District for five years.

He said the government was supposed to pay $0.55 (USh1,500) as lodging fee for each of the 3,000 goats for five years.

“In the memorandum of understanding I signed with the government, my farm was supposed to be a tourist camp where farmers would be trained and not a breeding ground for the goats,” Mr Sembeguya told MPs.

“I think we may have to go back to President (Yoweri) Museveni because I know he is in a better position to understand my dilemma. He has repeatedly written letters to the Ministry of Agriculture, asking them to facilitate the project, but in vain.”

Greener pastures

President Museveni was involved in authorising the project which started less than a year to the 2006 presidential election.

Under the deal, the farm was required to supply 150 male and 200 female exotic breed goats using its own funds and 54,000 improved Mubende goats using government funding. But the Auditor General found that some goats were not supplied.

The Presidential Goats Project received more than $327,529 (USh878.6 million) from government in the 2004/5 financial year for infrastructure development and purchase of the first lot of goats.

However, only 3,023 Mubende goats were bought and were not distributed to farmers at the time.

The Agriculture ministry later paid the farm an additional $371,416 (USh997.3 million).

MPs believe the goats should have multiplied to at least 30,023 over the five-year period of the project; they all seem to have crossed to road to greener pastures that no one seems able to find.

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