Thursday, 19 December 2013

Lands ministry fails to account for Shs75b

PARLIAMENT- At least $30m (about Shs75b) in donor money meant to fight poverty in urban areas cannot be accounted for, raising suspicions that officials in the Ministry of Lands could have abused it.
Ministry officials, including Permanent Secretary Ggabindadde Musoke appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (Pac) yesterday, and reportedly failed to say where the money is.
Pac chairman Kassiano Wadri said: “The urban poor project is ending in five months’ time but there is nothing on the ground. We suspect fraud in this project.”
Five municipalities received $6m (Shs14.9b) for anti-poverty projects during three years of the project.
Mr Musoke asked a Mr Joseph Walter Paddy, whom he introduced as “my project manager” to answer members queries. Mr Paddy said more than two years ago, the World Bank supported Arua, Mbale, Jinja, Mbarara and Kabale municipalities.
Pac said it will summon officials of the five municipalities to testify.
The 2012 Auditor General’s report shows that $750,000 was disbursed to the project during the year under review. However, $399,960 remained unutilised by the end of the year.
It observed that whereas $350,000 was transferred to the municipalities, the level of absorption was low. For example, Mbale, Kabale and Mbarara had balances of Shs140m, Shs154.8m and Shs135m, respectively by the close of the year.
Mr Gabindadde attributed delays in implementation to lengthy and rigid World Bank procurement plans which requires at least nine months before any procurement is effected. He blamed low absorption capacity at municipality level on delays by respective municipality contract committees to award contracts.