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Govt to conduct forensic audit into Karuma, Isimba dams

Mr. President and Mr. Zheng ZhuQiang, the Chinese Ambassador to Uganda water a memory tree after commissioning Isimba hydropower plant in Kayunga District. (PHOTO/PPU)

KAMPALA –The long-awaited forensic audit into the construction of the Karuma and Isimba hydroelectric dams is set to start after several attempts to audit the company hit a snug due to absence of funds.

The revelation was made by Mr. James Bantu, the director Forensic Audit while meeting with Members of Parliament (MPs) on the Parliamentary Finance Committee who said that part of the funding for the audit had been secured but the audits were delayed by objections of the two contractors.

He explained: “(For) the Karuma special audit, we have just gone through the soliciting of the firm, signed the contract and the contract was approved by the Solicitor General just last week and we should be in the process of signing the contract. We are engaging an international firm to commence the audit.”

Information from the Auditor General indicates that part of the money was provided by the European Union and the total funding was UGX5b and of this, the audit of Karuma and Isimba will account for UGX2.42b and in the 2019/2020 National Budget, the Auditor General has received an indicative budget of UGX2.86b that will cater for the second phase of Karuma and Isimba dams.

Following reports of cracks at the two dams, Mr.John Muwanga the Auditor General requested for UGX6b that he would use to conduct a thorough audit into the financial and quality of works at the dams and for three financial years. The money wasn’t availed.

It should be recalled that in 2016, reports of cracks developing at the 600MW Karuma and Isimba dam 83MW located along River Nile in the districts of Oyam and Kayunga whose works were spearheaded by Sinohydro Corporation Ltd and China Water & Electricity Corporation of Karuma and Isimba dam respectively.

In their budget proposals, the Auditor General is grappling with an audit backlog that would require UGX2.31b as well as UGX77.6b to undertake forensic investigations.

The audit team also told the Committee that whereas the Public Finance Management Act requires the Auditor General to report to Parliament on December 31 every year. The alignment of their audit year and financial year outcomes has posed a challenge and the six month period following the end of the financial year exerts pressure to produce audit reports in a timely manner.

He also raised concerns about the expanding scope of audit coverage local governments and schools in addition to increasing demand for public works audit, specialized audits and the forensic investigation has been difficult to cope with due to limited staff and budgetary allocations to execute requests and audit plans which has seen an accumulation of audit backlogs.

The Office of the Auditor General is also seeking for UGX1.043b to effectively build capacity and make a positive contribution to national priorities focused on areas considered as high impact such as public-private partnerships, Oil and Gas, international taxation, domestic revenue, IT systems audits, impact evaluation and illicit financial flows.

In the coming financial year, the Auditor General plans to conduct a number of financial audits in 94 Ministries, Departments and Agencies, 113 Statutory Authorities, Local Authorities-2030, Projects-177, PSAs-4.

Additionally, 10 value for money audits are planned as well as 10 specialized audits, 48 forensic investigations and specialized audits, five IT audits bringing the total number of audits to 2, 491.

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