Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Ceisteanna (137)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

137. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the measures that have been put in place following the suspension of Irish aid to Uganda in 2012; if Uganda is still subject to restrictions with regard to Irish aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8219/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The Government is committed to ensuring that aid is spent efficiently and effectively to tackle global challenges. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a zero tolerance approach towards fraud, and has in place policies and procedures for the prevention, detection and dealing with instances of fraud, or suspected fraud. These policies and procedures are in place in all Embassies with respect to the disbursement and expenditure of Irish Aid funds.

The Embassy in Kampala manages the Irish Aid programme through the 2016-2020 Uganda Country Strategy. Within this strategy Ireland is focused on social protection, HIV-AIDS, education and governance, and has programmes targeted at Uganda’s poorest region, Karamoja. In delivering this programme through local partners, risks are identified in a proposed partner organisation as part of an initial appraisal process. The nature of these risks is assessed and if mitigation is possible, the Embassy will agree to support the organisation. Currently, the Irish Aid programme in Uganda does not use Government financial systems, but rather partners with UN agencies and NGOs in delivery. Financial and management systems assessments are periodically conducted and funding is earmarked for identified activities that are pivotal to achieving results.

The programme in Uganda has been under close scrutiny by the Comptroller and Auditor General due to the 2012 fraud involving the Office of the Prime Minister. In February 2017, a delegation from the Comptroller and Auditor General's office visited Uganda, as a country level example of the Department’s control systems and improvements in procedures for bilateral assistance, following the major fraud case in 2012. The Department continuously reviews internal controls and risk management, and has revised and enhanced its grant management process for the Irish Aid programme, taking account of eeeee444444444444443the lessons learned from this fraud in 2012. The ongoing work of our internal auditors in key partner countries includes assessment of compliance with these and all the processes in place to manage grants.

I would point out the important role of the Uganda Auditor General, whose team had been strengthened by Irish Aid, in detecting and highlighting the fraud, as well as the fact that all Irish funds were returned to the Embassy in Uganda.