The Leader of Opposition in the 11th Parliament, Hon. Mathias Mpuuga. Internet photo.

Having found that UGX.10.574 bn (4%) in six (6) entities of government had been diverted and spent on items other than those for which the funds were disbursed, the Auditor General advised that Government puts in place measures to raise preparedness for the management of emergency situations.

Hon. Mathias Mpuuga has tasked government of Uganda to hatch a comprehensive review of its current COVID-19 national response strategy, to extend the current plan to include key sectors of the country, rather than implement an ad hoc intervention only in social protection and heath sectors, while negating dividends that would arise from supporting other key sectors like Agriculture and education, which he thinks remains largely unattended to.

The Leader of Opposition (LoP) while responding to statement by the Prime Minister of Uganda, Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja in parliament said government can capitalize on engagement with the house to develop a logically conceived plan, consolidate state savings made during lockdown and use capital grants to channel efforts towards critical areas in the current national response plan.

During the session filled with emotional sentiments among legislators on the current impact of COVID-19 and government decision to lock down the country early in May, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Anita Among, who chaired the plenary, called for accountability, tasking the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to scrutinize the report that’s submitted by the Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja, on government’s current COVID-19 intervention.

Recent report by the Auditor General (AG) on COVID-19 pandemic government intervention for financial 2019/2020, which came out in February 2021, confirmed irregularities in management of the funds by government in last year’s national emergency intervention. Among other things the Auditor General – John Muwanga,  noted that while a total of UGX.311bn was available, of which UGX.284bn was disbursed to either Ministries, Departments, Agencies or Districts; part of the money dispatched to these entities for the multi-sectoral intervention remained unaccounted for by the authorities.

Muwanga reported that UGX.6.68bn out of UGX.284bn was not utilized by four (4) government entities by close of the financial year and was subsequently returned to the consolidated fund. This, the Auditor General highlighted, affected implementation of the planned activities in the response plan.

“Out of 151 entities analysed, 149 (99%) had work plans with a total of 3,236 activities. Out of these, 3,025 activities were fully quantified while 211 (6.5%) activities were not sufficiently quantified which hindered me (the auditor) from assessing the extent of achievement of the activities. Out of the 3,025 quantified activities, 2,872 (94%) activities were fully implemented while 109 (4%) were partially implemented, and 44 (1%) were not implemented at all,” the Auditor General Muwanga noted.

He further suggested that, contrary to the Secretary to the treasury’s guidance to bank the funds intact, UGX.0.85bn (5%) out of UGX.17.24bn total cash donations was utilised at source in 56 entities of government, while the balance, UGX.16.38bn was banked on designated accounts of the entities as guided by the Ministry of finance.

Still, 25 entities of the total 134 districts and 11 MDAs undertook procurements worth UGX.143.84bn, without fully adhering to the procurement rules and regulations. Some of the anomalies, Muwanga argues, included irregular use of direct procurements, procurements without signed contracts, late delivery of goods, payments before receiving goods and or failure to involve contracts committees.

The Auditor General further found that up-to UGX.1.317bn (5%) of the initial fund (UGX.284bn) that was disbursed to seventeen (17) entities, remained unaccounted for at the time of audit and was difficult to establish if it was put to proper use. He said: “94 (68%) out of 135 entities that received donations in kind did not undertake valuations contrary to paragraph 15.5.1 of the Treasury Instructions, of 2017, while 69 (51%) of the entities did not record the donated items in the stores. This resulted into misstatement of financial statement balances.”

The same report also indicates that items valued at UGX.55.8bn (20%) that were distributed under the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) lacked sufficient evidence of acknowledgement to enable verification of the recipients. It’s the same office, now under Rt. Hon. Robbinah Nabbanja, that’s charged with the distribution of cash relief funds of UGX.100,000 each, to over 500,000 vulnerable Ugandans during the 42 days lockdown of the second wave of COVID-19 in Uganda. Nabbanja noted in her address to parliament yesterday of the need for accountability from government.

Having found that UGX.10.574bn (4%) in six (6) entities of government was diverted and spent on items other than those for which the funds were disbursed, the Auditor General advised that Government puts in place measures to raise preparedness for the management of emergency situations.

For Mpuuga, government’s current priority in providing logistical support to health facilities, coordination, surveillance, risk communication and research, continuity of essential services and vaccination as part of the key pillars of its resurgence plan, is rather bent on curative services other than preventive care, as vaccination rate still stands at a paltry 4% of targeted 21.9m eligible Ugandans, something he claims if we go at the same pace, would be achieved by the country 12 years from now.

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