KAMPALA – The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament has resolved to recommend sanctions against government officials from various agencies for the delayed implementation of an energy project leading to the withholding of nearly $ 1.7m (about UGX6b) from the World Bank.
Officials from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development led by Under Secretary Emmanuel Freddie Mugunga had appeared before the committee chaired by Budadiri West MP Nandala Mafabi on Wednesday to respond to queries raised by the Auditor-General in several projects run by the ministry for two consecutive financial years ending June 2019.
The MPs demanded to know why the ministry had failed to implement several activities under the Energy for Rural Transformation project III leading to a decision by the World Bank to deny further funding in the financial year ending June 2018. This led to a budget shortfall of US$ 1.698m out of a total budget of US$ 3.848m.
According to the Auditor General’s report, the project only received US$ 2.15m which was 56% of the total revenue expected.
The Coordinator of the project Emmanuel Buringuriza told the MPs that the funds are managed by eight implementing agencies that had problems in the procurement of supplies.
He listed these agencies like the Ministry of Education which was involved in procuring and installing solar equipment for post-primary schools, the Ministry of Health which was meant to procure and install solar equipment for Health Centers up to Health Center IV and the Electricity Regulatory authority which was meant to procure equipment to test the quality of meters.
Buringuriza also listed the Rural Electricity Agency involved in the building of distribution lines and the private sector foundation which he revealed received funding to support producers of small power output.
The Mbarara Municipality MP Michael Tusiime demanded to know what the consequences were a result of late disbursement of the funds and who should be held responsible.
Buringuriza noted that there was a fee paid every time money is not disbursed on time, to which Tusiime noted that this was as a result of somebody not doing their job and they ought to be held responsible.
Tusiime demanded that the accounting officer provides the committee with a list detailing reasons for underperformance such that the committee while writing its report is guided on who to hold responsible.
Nandala Mafabi observed that the time overruns for activities that were supposed to be executed in 2018 were shocking.
During the same financial year, the auditor general noted that the project had also budgeted for Government of Uganda counterpart funding of Shillings 5.267bn and only received Shillings 1.226bn implying a budgetary shortfall of 4.040 Billion Shillings
Under the schedule of planned activities not implemented the report reveals that the Ministry of Education received US$ 56,782 for beneficiary training and sensitization workshops for ERT III beneficiary schools and US$ 250,000 for supply, installation, commissioning and maintenance of solar PV systems.
The ministry of health received US$ 52,000 for procurement of a firm to carry out training of health sub-district technicians, US$ 14,000 for the training of health sub-district-based cold chain technicians on solar PV systems design limitations, installations, operation and maintenance and US$ 30,000 to procure solar maintenance tool kits for district-based technicians.
The health ministry also received US$ 1.672m for the supply installation, commissioning and maintenance of solar PV systems as well as US$ 10,000 for blueprint installation training for technicians/engineers from the ministry district engineering department and district cold chain technicians.