Auditor General’s Report Reveals Unclear Spending of COVID Money

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The June 2021 Auditor General’s Report on Covid-19 cash expenditures has revealed discrepancies, fraud and procurement irregularities.

After the outbreak of Covid-19 in March 2020, which led to total closure of the economy, government sourced support of Shs 4.361Tn which included; Shs 4.297Tn received as budget support from Parliament.

An additional supplementary budget of Shs 284Bn for multi-sectoral interventions to enable the Government respond to and manage the Covid-19 pandemic was approved.

Government also availed Shs 27.23Bn from the Contingency funds to support the fight. Shs 25Bn was allocated to the Ministry of Health and Shs 2Bn to the Office of the Prime Minister.

Shs 233m was also received as a donation from the Embassy of Beijing, according to the report

John Muwanga, the Auditor General, said that the report covered only Shs 311Bn which included; Shs 284Bn disbursed to the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and districts, and the Shs 27.23Bn that was released from the Contingency Fund.

The approved funds were disbursed by the Treasury to 134 districts and 11 MDAs for the purpose.

“Shs 6.68Bn (2%) out of Shs 284bn was not utilized by four (4) entities at the close of the financial year and was subsequently returned to the consolidated fund. This affected the implementation of the planned activities,” reads part of the Report.

Muwanga says that contrary to the PS/ST’s guidance to bank the funds intact, 56 entities utilized Shs 0.85Bn (5%) out of Shs 17.24bn total cash donations and banked the remaining balance which amount to Shs 16.38Bn on their designated accounts as guided by the PS/ST.

“Out of 151 entities analyzed, 149 (99%) entities 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 from assessing the extent of achievement of the activities,” the Report adds.

According to the Report, 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.

It adds that a total of 25 entities undertook procurements worth Shs 143.84Bn “without fully adhering to the procurement rules and regulations.”

“Some of the anomalies observed included: irregular use of direct procurements, procurements without signed contracts, late delivery of goods, payments before receiving goods and failure to involve the contracts committee,” Muwanga said in the Report.

The report indicates that Shs 1.317Bn (5%) out of the Shs 284bn that was disbursed to 17 entities remained unaccounted for at the time of audit.

“I therefore could not establish whether the funds were put to proper use,” he said.

94 out of 135 entities that received donations in kind did not undertake valuations which he said is contrary to paragraph 15.5.1 of the Treasury Instructions, 2017 while 69 entities did not record the donated items in the stores.

This, he said, resulted into misstatement of financial statement balances.

“A total of 45 entities faced challenges in the management and operation of quarantine centres under their charge, which included; insufficient PPEs, lack of necessary staff, failure to provide basic utilities like water and power and non-utilisation of the quarantine centres.”

This, he noted, may have hampered government efforts towards the containment of the spread of the pandemic.

Shs 10.574Bn (4%) in six (6) entities was diverted and spent on items other than those for which the funds were disbursed, according to the Report.

Items Distributed By OPM

The Report says that “items worth Shs 55.8Bn (20%) which were distributed under the OPM lacked sufficient evidence of acknowledgement to enable me verify the recipients.”

Muwanga attributed this to the emergency nature of the exercise.

ChimpReports understands that government earmarked Shs 59Bn towards distribution of food stuffs like; posho, beans and powdered milk to families in Kampala and Wakiso districts that had been affected by the countrywide lockdown.

Quality of Beans and Posho

On quality checks by Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), the report notes that out of the 14,069 metric tonnes of maize flour and 8,547 metric tonnes of dry-beans that was sampled, it was established that 2,615 (19%) metric tonnes of maize flour and 2,017 (24%) metric tonnes of dry-beans did not pass quality checks.

LDUs distributing posho and beans to vulnerable Ugandans last year

Government Response

Speaking to Reporters in Kampala this week, Patrick Ocailap, the AG. PSST said that he is reviewing the Report and if possible he will launch a special audit into some of the entities.

“I will then make recommendations to the Appointing Authority in September to punish such entities,” he said.

Source – ChimpReports

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