Executive summary: Auditor General’s report on COVID-19 government interventions

By John F.S Muwanga

The outbreak of Covid-19 was detected in the country in March 2020 and as a result, Government imposed restrictions to combat the spread of the disease. This affected the performance of the economy and the livelihoods of majority of citizens.

It is against this background that Government came up with multi-sectoral interventions to mitigate the adverse
effects of the pandemic which included provision of supplementary funds to entities, and provision of relief items to sections of the population that were worst affected.

During the financial year 2019/2020 government sourced for support of UGX.4.361tn. Included in the UGX.4.361tn is UGX.4.297tn that was received as budget support from which Parliament of Uganda approved a supplementary budget of UGX.284bn for multi-sectoral interventions, to enable the Government respond to and manage the Covid-19 pandemic.

The approved funds were disbursed by the Treasury to 134 districts and 11 MDAs for the purpose.

In addition, UGX.27.23bn was availed from the Contingency funds to support the Ministry of Health (UGX.25bn), Office of the Prime Minister (UGX.2bn) and Embassy of Beijing (UGX.233m).

This report is in respect of the UGX.311bn comprising of UGX.284bn disbursed to the MDAs and districts, and UGX.27.23bn released from the Contingency Fund.

Below is a summary of the key findings, details of which are included in individual reports issued separately;

UGX.6.68bn (2%) out of UGX.284bn was not utilized by four (4) entities at the close of the financial year and was subsequently returned to the consolidated. This affected the implementation of the planned activities.

Contrary to the PS/ST’s guidance to bank the funds intact, UGX.0.85bn (5%) out of UGX.17.24bn total cash donations was utilised at source in 56 entities. The balance of UGX.16.38bn was banked on designated accounts of the entities as guided by the PS/ST.

Out of 151 entities analyzed, 149 (99%) entities had work plans with a total of 3,236 activities. Out of these, 3,025 activities were fully quantified while 211 (6.5%) activities were not sufficiently quantified which hindered me from assessing the extent of achievement of the activities. Out of the 3,025 quantified activities, 2,872 (94%) activities were fully implemented while 109 (4%) were partially implemented, and 44 (1%) were not implemented at all.

A total of 25 entities undertook procurements worth UGX.143.84bn without fully adhering to the procurement rules and regulations. Some of the anomalies observed included: irregular use of direct procurements, procurements without signed contracts, late delivery of goods, payments before receiving goods and failure to involve the contracts committee.

UGX.1.317bn (5%) out of the UGX.284bn that was disbursed to seventeen (17) entities remained unaccounted for at the time of audit. I therefore could not establish whether the funds were put to proper use.

94 (68%) out of 135 entities that received donations in kind did not undertake valuations contrary to paragraph 15.5.1 of the Treasury Instructions, 2017 while 69 (51%) entities did not record the donated items in the stores. This resulted into misstatement of financial statement balances.

A total of 45 entities faced challenges in the management and operation of quarantine centres under their charge. The challenges faced included: insufficient PPEs, lack of necessary staff at the quarantine centres, failure to provide basic utilities such as water and power and non-utilisation of the quarantine centres. This may have hampered Government efforts towards the containment of the spread of the pandemic.

Items valued at UGX.55.8bn (20%) were distributed under the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) lacked sufficient evidence of acknowledgement to enable me verify the recipients. This was attributed to the emergency nature of the exercise.

Quality checks by UNBS on a sample of 14,069 metric tonnes of maize flour and 8,547 metric tonnes of dry-beans established that 2,615 (19%) metric tonnes of maize flour and 2,017 (24%) metric tonnes of dry-beans intended for distribution by Office of the Prime Minister did not pass quality checks.

UGX.10.574bn (4%) in six (6) entities was diverted and spent on items other than those for which the funds were disbursed.

W John F.S. Muwanga, Auditor General of Uganda

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