Quick takes on Chris Kassami
· Education. He holds a BA Economics from University of Dar es Salaam and various high level qualifications in Finance and Economics. He joined the Finance ministry in 1972 as an Economist and has also served as permanent secretary in Education, Works and Finance.
· While in service. Mr Jim Mugunga, the Ministry of Finance spokesperson, said Mr Kassami was an accomplished diplomat who often exercised a wide and great consultative approach that has enabled him contribute greatly towards influencing major policies that have impacted positively on the country’s economic development.
· Media shy. Mr Kassami has not been popular among media circles in comparison to his deputy as he has not been readily available to offer comments to the media on most issues concerning the Treasury.
After 20 years of seeing the same face, the Ministry of Finance will with effect from today have a new Secretary to the Treasury.
In a press release yesterday, the Finance ministry said Mr Chris Kassami would cease serving in the position effective today.
“I am 65 years old and it’s time to take rest from official work to concentrate on other things,” Mr Kassami said when contacted yesterday.
In his message to staff, Mr Kassami said he was leaving the ministry with happy and treasurable memories of “belonging to the family of MFPED and the bigger family of Public Service.”
Although the statement did not mention who would take over, sources told the Daily Monitor that his deputy, Mr Keith Muhakanizi, was currently doing much of the Treasury work as Mr Kassami cleared his desk.
Mr Kassami has been in Public Service for 40 years. Prior to joining Finance, he had worked as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Works.
He rose through the ranks, from serving as a senior economist to principal economist and chief economist before being appointed the chief government planning economist and head of the Macro-Planning Department in 1988.
His tenure as Secretary to the Treasury was marred by two recent huge scandals; the Shs169 billion Public Service pension scam and the theft of more than Shs50 billion in the Office of the Prime Minister last year.
Supplementary budgets in Uganda have also been on a steady increase under Mr Kassami’s regime, peaking from four per cent of the approved budget in 2008/09, to 7.2 per cent in 2009/10 and 27.7 per cent in 2010/11.
This is far higher than the three per cent of the total approved budget for a particular financial year that is permitted under the Budget Act (2001).
The government, for instance, spent Shs150 billion in supplementary budgets in 2011.
The Finance ministry, however, acknowledged the weaknesses within the government accounting system and consequently sought to fix these weaknesses, which were widely believed to be responsible for the wide spread graft.