Auditor General report exposes mess in Uganda’s COVID-19 finances

Auditor General report exposes mess in Uganda’s COVID-19 finances
Auditor General John Muwanga

Kampala, Uganda | URN | A new report of the Auditor General has revealed financial indiscipline in relation to the utilization of 311 billion Shillings disbursed to Ministries, Departments, Agencies (MDAs) and districts for COVID-19 interventions.

Auditor General John Muwanga presented his report for financial year 2019/2020 to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga on Thursday 11, March 2021 morning.

According to the report, government interventions towards the management of COVID-19 pandemic totaled 4.36 trillion Shillings and the funding sources were loans (4.29 trillion), grants (17.98 billion), local cash donations (11.6 billion) and In-kind donations (34.55 billion).

However, the Deputy Auditor General Keto Nyapendi Kayemba says that the report focuses on funds totaling 311 billion comprising of 284 billion disbursed to the MDAs and districts, 27 billion released from the Contingency Fund and the In-kind donations received by the various entities.

According to a summary of the key findings, 6.68 billion out of the 284 billion that came direct from the Consolidated Fund was not utilized at the close of the financial year and returned to the Consolidated Fund.

“This affected the implementation of the planned activities,” reads the report. Contrary to the Secretary to Treasury’s guidance to bank the funds intact, 850 million out of 17.24 billion total cash donations were utilized at source in 56 entities. The balance was banked on designated accounts of the entities.”

Muwanga also queries that a total of 25 entities undertook COVID-19 related procurements worth 143.84 billion Shillings without fully adhering to the procurement rules and regulations. Some of the observed anomalies include irregular use of direct procurements, procurements without signed contracts, late delivery of goods, payment before receiving goods and failure to involve the contracts committee.

Parliament also learnt that 1.31 billion 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,” says Muwanga. “94 (68 per cent) out of 135 entities that received donations in kind did not undertake valuations contrary to the Treasury Instructions, 2017 while 69 (51 per cent) entities did not record the donated items in the stores. This resulted into misstatement of financial statement balances.”

Muwanga further notes that items valued at 55.8 billion Shillings were distributed under the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) lacked sufficient evidence of acknowledgement to enable him verify the recipients.

He also reports the quality checks by Uganda National Bureau of Standard (UNBS) on a sample of 14,069 metric tonnes of maize flour and 8,547 metric tonnes of dry-beans which established that 2,615 metric tonnes of maize flour and 2,017 metric tonnes of dry-beans intended for distribution by OPM did not pass quality checks.

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Also revealed is that 10.574 billion in 5 entities was diverted and spent on items other than those for which funds were disbursed.

Muwanga advised government to initiate measures to raise preparedness for management of emergency situations. His report comes two months behind the schedule of submitting the report. The report for the financial year end June 30, 2020, was expected by December 31, 2020 but Auditor General sought an extension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said that Parliament did what it could to support the government in the country’s COVID-19 response although in some instances the Institution felt unsatisfied.