KAMPALA – The Inspector General of Government (IGG), Ms. Beti Kamya has warned Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Francis Mwebesa to remove his nose from the ongoing procurement process for the provision of Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVOC) services, a project under Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS).
In a letter dated October 6, 2023, the IGG indicated had learnt that Minister Mwebesa was exerting his undue influence on the members of the Contracts and Evaluation committees and in the process usurping the powers of the Accounting Officer.
“The office of the Inspectorate of Government is still investigating the allegations of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives and other related allegations of which are of a grave nature involving interference corruption and malpractice in the procurement process,” the IGG wrote in the letter, directing this is to direct the Minister to desist from interfering in the matter with immediate effect.
Kamya said that the Minister risks criminal charges including abuse of office, influence peddling, corruption, and bribery of public officials, and directed him to let the Accounting officer perform his obligations independently under the law.
“Section 26 of the PPDA Act, No. 1 of 2003 makes the procurement process an overall responsibility of the Accounting Officer of the procuring and disposing entity (UNBS in this case),” the IGG explained, adding that law mandates all procurement to be conducted in a manner that promotes transparency, accountability, and fairness to maximize competition and value for money.
At the center of the controversy are allegations that the Minister is interfering in favour of EAA Company Ltd, whose bid has also been stopped by the High Court.
It is also understood that the Minister considers that his efforts are being frustrated by the UNBS Board and has threatened to dismiss the entire board of directors.
The High Court in Kampala last week temporarily stopped the procurement of the interim service provider(s) of conformity for used motor vehicles pending the hearing and disposal of the dispute.
Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) is an inspection and verification program implemented by the UNBS. The program’s primary objective is to ensure that the products placed on the Ugandan market uphold safety and quality standards.
All commodities subject to regulation and imported into Uganda are required to undergo inspections and verification to ensure compliance with the Uganda PVoC program.