During the March 2020 Covid 19 outbreak, Parliament approved a supplementary budget of Shs284b to enable government respond to the pandemic through its different entities. The National treasury distributed the approved funds to 134 districts and 11 ministries, departments and agencies.
Following reports of mismanagement of COVID funds, the Ministry of Finance asked the Auditor General to carry out a forensic audit of all expenditures by government agencies involved in the procurement of COVID 19 items.
According to New Vision, the audit report by Auditor General John Muwanga on the management of COVID 19 interventions for the financial year 2019/20 revealed that a total of 25 government entities made procurements worth Shs143.84b received as part of the Covid 19 response without following the proper procurement guidelines issued.
The publication stated that some of the entities include Ministry of Health (Shs100b), Ministry of Defence (Shs16b), Uganda Police Force (Shs21.2),Uganda Prisons Services (Shs3.4b), Office of the President (Shs123m), Buikwe District Local Government (Shs2.4b), Lira DLG(Shs21M),Kween (Shs76m), Dokolo (63m) Butebo(shs54,4).
Some of the irregularities found were was inflation of the budget by irregularly increasing the unit cost of items, delayed delivery of procured goods even after full payment, overpayment of some suppliers while other suppliers were paid before signing the contract.
In the Ministry of Defence the report showed that there was delayed delivery of procured items in some of the procurements like the procurement of pick-up trucks from Toyota Uganda.
Muwanga reported that there was unjustified use of single sourcing for procurement worth Shs14.724b, the contract with NEC Luwero Industries for the procurement of medical requirements worth Shs826m was signed on July 30,2020 after delivery of items on May 6,2020 yet payment was carried out on June 26,2020.
The same incident happened with a medical company which was contracted to supply medical requirements. The company was paid on June 22,2020 before signing the contract, the items were delivered on May 18,2020 and the contract was signed on August 13,2020.
Muwanga also accused the Uganda Police force for inflating the budget by Shs14.9b.
“I observed that the budget for the Covid 19 intervention for the Uganda Police was inflated by irregularly increasing the unit cost of items,” he stated in the report.
The report states that the force contracted a contractor for the supply of 95,507b bottles(750ml) worth Shs1.9b and irregularly paid an advance payment which wasn’t provided for in the contract, Shs1,3b was used to procure small and large hand pocket sanitizers but no evidence of procurement procedures were provided, Shs1.7b was also fully paid to a contractor for the supply of 19,000 20 litre jerrycans before the supplier delivered all the jerrycans.
Police files worth Shs5.9b were not availed for auditing however the publication states that it spoke to the accounting officer of Uganda Police, Aggrey Wunyu who said that all the raised issues were responded to in the management letter with the Auditor General and dropped.
The report also states that the six million masks procured by the Ministry of Health were not certified by the Uganda National Bureau of Statistics, the masks were also delivered before the procurement evaluation report was approved.
38 emergency ambulances worth Sh11b were delivered late by more than five months, Intensive Care Unit equipment for 17 referral hospitals worth Shs11b was delivered late, there was no space to accommodate beds bought for the ICUs at the referral hospitals and up to 70 pieces had not been installed by the time of the audit in November 2020.
The report also revealed that the supplier of the Covid 19 lab testing kits was overpaid by Shs5.7m and the consignment wasn’t inspected on arrival by an inspector of drugs hence the kits may not have met the required specifications.
The publication also stated that in Uganda Prisons Services, three procurements worth Shs239m were conducted outside the revised plan.
“This is in addition to procuring goods and supplies such as detergents, gloves and sanitizers worth Shs976m using the direct procurement method without justification, “stated New Vision.
Muwanga stated that procurements worth Shs429m were retrospectively awarded to suppliers after delivery of the items.
The report also states that the Office of the President undertook procurements worth Shs123m using a direct procurement method to procure food. Muwanga said that the method wasn’t justified as he wasn’t provided with the contracts committee minutes.
Local District Governments like Buikwe, nakaseke, Lira,Kole,Kumi,Kiboga, Bulisa,Bugweri,Kassanda,Butebo, Kween , Abim, Moroto, Karenga, Amolatar,Soroti and Dokolo also had procurement irregularities.