By PATRICK JARAMOGI
KAMPALA- SHIFTMEDIA- The fight against corruption is a stiff task in Uganda, but the Inspectorate of Government has registered some strides, amidst the challenges of inadequate funding and trapping the ‘big fish’.
But not all hope is gone at least as per the latest findings regarding how the IGG managed to put top government officials on their knees, even prompting recoveries of stolen tax payers monies.
Top Parliament Bosses vomit stolen cash
Between December 2015 and June 2016, Emmanuel Bakwega (below), the Director Clerks, Parliament of Uganda and Gamusi Paul Wabwire, Deputy Clerk Parliamentary Affairs received shs100 million as facilitation for training in Kigali, Rwanda and the UK, but they didn’t attend these trainings. Our findings revealed that they instead used the money for their personal developments.
Part of this money was meant for the seminar: “Beyond aid: Innovative Governance, Financing and Partnership for post-2015 Agenda” that according to the duo was held at the Wilton Park Hotel in June 2016.
The duo knew they wouldn’t be busted. The IGG in its investigations unearthed that the seminar indeed took place, but in February 2015 and not June 2016 as Bakwega and Wabwire intimated.
Apparently, Wilton Park Hotel denied issuing any invitation letters to either Bakwega, or Wabwire, neither did they send any invoices, in short, this was simply a fraud.
The IGG in its report to Parliament ruled that the sum of shs99, 235, 200 wasn’t used for its intended purpose, but was rather embezzled. Bakwega was exonerated regarding the Kigali meeting after the Clerk to EALA Kenneth Madete confirmed that he attended, though he didn’t have any documentary evidence.
To avoid prosecution, after they were squeezed to the wall, Bakwega Emmanuel “vomited” shs48, 139, 600, while Paul Wabwire (Below) coughed shs51, 095, 600. These monies were deposited on the IG Asset Recovery Account (003030088000007) in the Bank of Uganda).
Though the IGG recommended that the duo also be subjected to the Parliamentary Commission for appropriate disciplinary action, for obtaining money for training and opting to use it for other purposes, the Commission was muffled regarding the disciplinary action it subjected the two.
Chris Obore exonerated
Chris Obore the Director of Communications and Public Affairs was found not to be party to the procurement of the heavy-duty video camera (Shs148m) and camera stand. He joined after the procurement process.
The IGG in its findings revealed that the Procurement Unit of Parliament headed by Kaganzi Julian (Chief Procurement Officer), and Lassu Patrick the Procurement Officer did not seek due guidance from the department that Chris Obore heads regarding specifications required.
The camera ordered from M/S MTA Computers was PDW800, but what was delivered was PDW850. To make matters worse, the camera components were delivered in pieces, minus the lens. We discovered that the market price for this Sony PDW850 Camera goes for between USD25,000 to 24,000 Pounds (Shs90m) though the price was inflated to shs148m (USD40,000)
Instead after misunderstandings and verbal exchange since the camera wasn’t in use, Kasule Kagimu, the Public Affairs Manager, and then Acting Contracts Manager substituted a tripod at the cost of shs3.4m for the lens without seeking approval from the contracts committee and accounting officer as required by law.
The camera needed a card reader worth shs40m for it to be used, since this wasn’t purchased, the camera was never used despite parliament spending huge sums of money on its purchase.
The IGG bites
For the actions, the Public Affairs Officer, Kasule Kagimu, was severely reprimanded by the Parliamentary Commission for neglect of duty, while Julian Kaganzi, the Chief Procurement Officer, and Lassu Patrick the Procurement Officer
were warned by the commission for failing to develop elaborate specifications for the heavy-duty camera. The axe fell on the Assistant Inventory Manager Bosio Sam and the Public Affairs officer Nabitaka Barbra who were relieved of their duties for misleading the accounts department to pay for the camera stand before it was delivered.
Snapshot of cases
The inspectorate of the Government registered a total of 1051 complaints between July- December 2019. Out of these, 899 cases were investigated and completed. These investigations led to the prosecution of 26 persons, administrative action on 28 officials, and recovery of shs593, 261, 770 that was deposited on the IG Asset Recovery Account.
Between July – December, a total of 669 corruption cases were registered leading to the completion of 587 cases. Out of these, 48 corruption cases were from Central Government involving 14 high profile cases involving over shs1billion.
The IGG prosecuted a total of 132 cases, that led to the recovery of shs235.8 million due to court orders, out of which a sum of shs60.43m was recovered leaving a balance of shs175.3million.
Over payment of shs6b on installation of new Baggage Handling System
Some ‘corrupt’ officials at the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) caused heavy financial losses to the government due to inflated costs in the execution of the contract between CAA and M/s Vanderlande Industries BV of Netherlands.
The findings indicate that CAA signed a contract with BV for the construction of a new Baggage Handling System at Entebbe International Airport worth USD$ 4, 838,053.54 (Shs17.8b),but irregularly paid the provider USD 738,008 for import VAT that M/s Industries BV was supposed to pay. The man on the spot was the CAA Procurement Manager who erroneously applied for a tax liability through VAT deferment with Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).
The CAA also contravened Section 119 of the Income Tax Act when they failed to withhold tax worth USD 39,510.36 (Shs145m) and irregularly paid the money to the provider leading to loss of funds to government.
Further investigations reveal that though US 24, 795.68 (shs90m) was released for the provider to facilitate the pre-shipment inspection team to Netherlands, no team went, leading to loss of revenue.
The same procurement manager made variation orders and amendments on the scope of the BHS contract without following laid out procurement procedures.
According to the manager, reduction of the check-in counters from the original 26 to 22 was meant to reduce on costs, but it was discovered that the cost instead shot up by US 41, 648 (shs153m).
The project manager CAA and the former Accounting Officer caused financial loss worth US 148, 586.65 when they irregularly approved payments on variation orders without justification and proper laid down procurement laws.
Though the IG ordered that the Managing director CAA recovers USD 541, 544.47 (Shs1.976b) from M/s Vanderlande Industries BV that was meant for import VAT, Withholding tax and Pre-shipment inspections and scope variations, only shs94m was deposited on the IG recovery account in the Bank of Uganda.
Despite the increase in the number of declarations, the IG is yet to strengthen its capacity to effectively verify declarations and investigations.