NEWS

How NDA paid out Shs5 billion to staff as per diem in three years

National Drug Authority offices in Entebbe.

An audit has revealed that staff at the National Drug Authority (NDA) received Shs5.2 billion as allowance for foreign trips between 2012 and 2015.

The audit, which was carried out by Deloitte, a UK firm, on the directive of the NDA board at the time, sought to investigate allegations of mismanagement at the institution. It also discovered that about Shs86 million was paid to NDA board members as per diem between the three years.

The report, which has since been submitted to the Auditor General, indicates that whereas NDA staff were entitled to travel allowances, there was no accountability for the money paid out, indicating that more money could have been dished out to staff.

“No accountability was provided after the individuals returned from the trips.  As such, there was a risk that NDA could have been making excessive per diem payments due to unverified travel durations,” a copy of the report seen by PML Daily reads in part.

The audit report also accused NDA of collecting Shs42.6 billion between 2012 and 2014 as licence fees from drug shops illegally since the March 2014 regulations on licencing fees had not come into force.

According to the report, the money was collected through internal circulars, which was illegal. The audit also indicates that there was conflict of interest in tendering processes and inaccurate revenue figures in annual reports.

The report also recommends that action be taken against NDA officials at the time.

The authority at the time was under the leadership of Gordon Sematiko, who has since been relieved of his duties.

NDA executive secretary Donna Kusemererwa has said the issues happened in the past administration.

Ms Dona Kusemererwa, the current NDA executive secretary, who replaced Dr Sematiko, refused to comment on the allegations, saying they affected the previous office bearers and “a lot has since changed” at the authority.

Dr Sematiko, along with two top managers was in 2015 suspended by the NDA board over transferring $5m (about Shs14 billion) to an unauthorised fixed deposit account in a city bank.

Dr Sematiko, the then NDA executive secretary, and Mr Dan Badebye, the head of finance, were suspended following a heated meeting. The board found that Dr Sematiko and Mr Badebye wrote to the manager of Standard Chartered Bank on November 24, 2014, asking him to honour cheque No 100051, worth $5m, drawn on NDA’s account.

In a WhatsApp message current board chairman Dr Merdard Bitegyerezo assured PML Daily that the current board, which he took over in March 2017 has taken control of the disbursement of allowances and similar incidents cannot recur.

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