Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has directed a forensic audit into a 2.2 million US Dollars World Bank project grant extended to the Finance Ministry.
The 8.4 billion Shillings project was extended to the Ministry by World Bank’s multi-donor trust fund- the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) towards the cost of the Uganda Clean Cooking Supply Chain Expansion Project (UCCSCEP).
The project which is implemented by the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) on behalf of the Finance Ministry is intended to expand access, adoption of cleaner and more efficient cooking solutions, reduce household air pollution, consumption and expenditure for biomass cooking fuels.
It started in 2016 and involves distribution of biomass cooking stoves by manufacturers. It is expected to end next month.
The project target is to distribute 45,000 improved cookstoves but according to Geoffrey Ssebugwawo the Project Coordinator, 37,401 stoves have been distributed as at September 2019.
However, the Auditor General John Muwanga queried delays in the implementation of the project citing that it was earlier expected to end in December 2018 before an extension was agreed upon with World Bank to December 2019.
In his 2018 report, Muwanga further queried that there is risk of the project expiring with 1m US Dollars unspent out of the 2.2m Dollar project funds.
Michael Tusiime, the Mbarara Municipality MP tasked Ssebugwawo to explain whether Uganda was ready to receive and utilize the grant given the queries raised. Tusiime alleged that the extension of the project as highlighted by the Auditor General benefits those who earn wages from it with no clear benefit to Ugandans.
Tororo South MP Fredrick Angura and Adjuman Woman MP Jessica Ababiku also questioned the country’s preparedness for the project funds and how the Ministry together with PSFU have been able to make the product known to the population.
PAC Chairperson Nathan Nandala Mafabi questioned where the stoves where being distributed and the distribution chain.
Ssebugwawo insisted that Uganda was ready for the project and that once manufactured, the stoves will be sold at 25,000 Shillings out of which the sellers are paid 30% and the remaining 70% funds remains on the project account.
However, Ssebugwawo could later contradict himself saying that they do not sell stoves and retain the money since it is entirely a reward to the sellers. His explanation raised more queries from Nandala who accused officials of extending the project duration only to earn from it.
Tusiime moved a motion that a forensic audit is carried out on the project saying that the committee had failed to secure proper explanation on its operation, distribution chain of the stoves and the financial benefits.
The motion was adopted by the committee with Nandala making more directives for members to be furnished with expenses on salaries and wages of project officials, information on consequences of not meeting the project duration, project documentation including a contract and others.
He directed that all information is availed to his office by Tuesday next week to aid a forensic audit.