By Patrico Ocaido
In an interesting twist of events, Auditor General John Muwanga has exonerated Finance minister Matia Kasaija on alleged misappropriation of $200m (over Shs720bn) PTA loan.
Recently, a report from Public Accounts Committee (PAC) titled "The Acquisition and Utilization of the USD 200m loan from the Eastern and Southern African trade and Development Bank (PTA)" had pinned Kasaija and Secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi for 'duping' and 'fraudulently' receiving the Shs720bn loan in guise of giving it to National Medical Stores (NMS) for procurement of medical supplies among others.
However, On February 07, 2018, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga blocked the proposed censure of Kasaija and Muhakanizi and ordered for a special audit report from the Auditor General before parliament can proceed to debate on the PAC report. The Auditor General was to establish whether the loan was acquired in accordance with the relevant laws and to ascertain whether the funds were utilised for the purpose for which it was approved among others.
According to the special audit report that Kampala Post has seen, the said $200m was disbursed by TDB between October 2016 and July 2017 and deposited in the TFFA in BOU and subsequently transferred to the Consolidated Fund Account.
The Auditor General's special audit report further revealed that NMS received all the money that the entity was supposed to get from as part of the PTA loan.
"Based on the copies of submissions made to TDB, documentation received from the NMS, and interactions with the NMS, TDB, and MOFPED, I established that all funds appropriated to NMS in the FY 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 were received fully by NMS including approved supplementary funding of Shs58bn," the report reads.
Muwanga added in his report saying, "In addition, by February 2018 (FY2017/2018), NMS had received the bulk of its appropriated budget. Out of the USD.42,88O,625.09 worth of framework contracts submitted in support of the drawdown request, NMS had placed and executed orders amounting to USD.24,468,897.22 which were paid in the FY 2016/2017 and are still being settled in 2017/2018 through their appropriated budgets as the contracts perform."
According to the report, the approved budget and releases to NMS indicated that the entity received all entire budgets of Shs.218bn in 2015/2016 and Shs.264bn in 2016/2017 and by February 2018 (FY 2017/2018), NMS had so far received Shs269bn out of the approved budget of Shs258bn.
To enable NMS to finance its budget shortfall, the entity requested for a supplementary funding totaling to Shs68bn in financial year 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 to facilitate procurement of blood collection/ testing as well as malaria drugs by NMS.
Muwanga observed that Finance ministry availed NMS with the supplementary funding of Shs27bn in FY 2016/2017 (March 2017) and Shs41bn in FY 2017/2018.
Parliament will now debate on the PAC report basing on the Auditor General's special audit report as a guiding tool.