The parliamentary accounts committee led by Agago woman MP, Akello Judith Franca has named Mbarara district and its municipality as having the most corrupt local government officials in western Uganda.
This was revealed on Wednesday by the committee member Jonathan Odur who represents Erute County South in Parliament, while concluding the examination of the 2017-2018 auditor report for Mbarara audit region.
The committee which spent three days in Mbarara observed that most of the government funds released to cater for the government projects in the district are not put to proper use. They are instead swindled by its officials.
Odur said the committee found a number of anomalies in Mbarara district related to mismanagement of procurement.
“But I can inform you that there is a big problem in Mbarara district. We were able to detect that a payment of Shs 43m was fraudulently paid in the names for VAT to three companies and those companies have also been summoned to appear. We are going to invite URA to take keen interest in companies that are defrauding in the district and are also not remitting the taxes”.
“We were also able to find that an amount of Shs 83m that was irregularly paid to allowances in budget lines that were not meant for allowances like from buildings and other procurement were paid to a number of government officials and we have ordered that all the monies must be recovered,” he added.
As such, some of the district officials were arrested while others were summoned to Kampala to account for the funds in question.
The arrested include; Dinah Mwijje, the District Procurement Office and the Mbarara municipality Principal Community Development Officer also YLP focal person, Peter Turyamuhaki.
Mwijje was found to be culpable for misleading the contracts’ committee in awarding contracts worth more than Shs 380m. She is faulted for advising the contracts’ committee to ignore essential documents like trading licenses, VAT registration, and financial statements of companies which were awarded contracts at the district.
“This collusion denied other business persons in Mbarara an opportunity to do business with government, because, if you set a different standard and call a bid proposal but in the end you waiver some requirements, it means that you have made some business persons to lose,” Odur said.
He also said that arrest warrants have been made for all the members of the contracts; committee for Mbarara district local government who were in hiding.
The Mbarara municipality principal community development officer, Peter Turyamuhaki equally failed to defend the nonexistent group that received money worth Shs 7m under the Youth Livelihood Program (YLP) and no recovery was done.
“On the Youth Livelihood Program in Mbarara, we have discovered that an amount of Shs 7m was paid to a group that does not exist and a project that does not exist”.
A number of other irregularities were unearthed in the operations of the municipality. These include; under collection of local revenue, misappropriation of council land, and unapproved illegal constructions within the municipality.
Relatedly, the Bushenyi district Engineer, Bernabas Mbonimpa was queried on the 10km Kazindi-Nkanga-Igambiro road that was not worked on. The project cost was Shs 16.2m.
The committee directed the CAO to see to it that the District Engineer, Banarbas Mbonimpa meets the cost of reconstructing the said road before the end of July 2019.
The committee Vice chairperson, Gilbert Olanya revealed that several district officials including sub-county chiefs from Buhweju and Kiruhura have been handed to Police CID for further investigations to proceed.
“We have also handed over many chief administrative officers like last week the town clerk of Hoima was handed to CID to investigate the money given to Hoima municipal council,” Olanya explained.
“Our economy as government has drastically increased and we are injecting a lot of money to all the districts in the country. Whenever the district receives money they start conniving and thinking about how much to steal – right from sub-county level up to the chief administrative officer. The money that reaches the poor is minimal compared to one which is swindled”.
He revealed that the recommendations from PAC will be discussed in parliament to find a lasting solution to financial mismanagement in the country.