Kampala, Uganda | GODFREY SSALI | The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga has directed the Auditor General John Muwanga to conduct a special audit into the account of the Treasury, to establish how and where the $200 million that was meant to purchase drugs was spent.
Kadaga ruled on Wednesday that Parliament will first need to understand the intricacies involving the controversial loan procured by the Ministry of Finance to fund the National Medical Stores (NMS )but later diverted for other purposes before a committee debate on the issue goes ahead. The Speaker said this will be after the Auditor General has carried out a forensic audit to establish how the money was spent.
This comes after the report from the public accounts of Uganda’s parliament recommended that the minister of finance Matia Kasaija should be censured for tricking parliament into approving a loan to buy drugs yet this was never the case.
The embattled minister Kasaijja and the Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi are under pressure to resign or be censured for mishandling this loan.
Government in 2016 took the loan from the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (PTA Bank) for the procurement of medical supplies for the National Medical Stores .
The money was also meant to cater for the procurement of earth moving equipment from China and funding of Rural Electrification Projects.
Approval for the loan was controversial as it was initially rejected by Parliament on grounds that there was no compelling reason to borrow.
Technocrats at the Ministry of Finance, however, turned around and re-tabled another loan request but for the same, which Bank of Uganda Governor Tumusiime Mutebile opposed on grounds that BoU had “more than sufficient foreign exchange reserves to support these interventions.”
The Finance Minister disregarded Mutebile’s advice and proceeded with the loan request which Parliament approved.
A lid was opened on the possible bungling up of the loan when NMS wrote several letters to Minister Kasaija and Muhakanizi asking for the money that was meant to buy essential medical supplies but the Finance Minister advised NMS to get medicines worth Shs41b on credit.
The matter was brought to the attention of parliament by the parliamentary commissioner also Dokolo woman Member of Parliament Cecilia Atim Ogwal who complained about the shortage of drugs in the country yet parliament had approved a loan to cater for this.
Kadaga in her ruling noted that there is need to ascertain and find out the performance and utilization of the loan before parliament can begin debating the report of the committee.
Kadaga gave the Auditor General up to 28th of this month to submit an audited report on how the funds were spent and then parliament will resume debating the report on March 28th.