UIA quizzed over mischarged expenditure

The Public Accounts Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), has tasked the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) to explain the unauthourised use of Shs55 million for sponsorships of investment promotional events, which is outlawed in the Charter for Fiscal Responsibility.

This was one of the queries raised in the Auditor General’s Report for 2022/2023.

“The authority has memorandum of understanding (MoUs) with different partnering institutions to support investment promotion, business development, and Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) formalisation. We are required to contribute in sponsoring events that promote investments in the country. So the most possible way to address MoUs and sponsorships was through the use of consultancy services fund,” said Robert Mukiza, the Director General, UIA.

Mukiza and UIA officials appeared before COSASE chaired by Hon. Medard Sseggona on Tuesday, 20 February 2024.

He said UIA was already putting in place measures to implement the Auditor General’s recommendation to avoid such reoccurrence.

“Office of the Auditor General (OAG) advised that realistic budgets are prepared to avoid situations where activities are charged on wrong accounts, where their accounts have either been exhausted or not provided for,” Mukiza said.

Hon. Sseggona, also Busiro County East MP, demanded a list of the promotional events that compelled UIA to flout financial expenditure regulations.

“We are dealing with an issue of mischarge where the law is clear, the evidence is on the wall, the Auditor General made his recommendation, we shall make our judgement. We wish to see the list of events sponsored at that amount,” said Ssegona.

UIA’s Director for Investment Promotion and Business Development, Martin Muhangi, said they co-sponsored regional investment events such as the Kasese Rwenzori Business Forum, the Rising Woman Event, EAC Business Forum, West Nile Investment Forum and Northern Uganda Investment Forum.

MPs were equally concerned with glitches in the recruitment process where UIA failed to recruit staff as per the OAG report. The report indicates that out of Shs49.9 billion released to UIA, only Shs49.62 was spent leaving un utilised funds due to failed recruitment.

Legislators did not buy into UIA’s justification that the failed attempt at recruitment was caused by failure to get the required competence.

“I would imagine UIA with their mandate cannot fail to get the candidates for their jobs because the work they do is not rocket science. We need to know if there were delays in securing a consultant hiring firm or whether there was a delay in-house,” said Hon. David Karubanga (NRM, Kigorobya County).

Ssegona guided that the committee would ascertain the failed attempts at recruitment by scrutinizing recruitment requirements such as the quality of people UIA required and the caliber of applicants they received.

The committee commended UIA on the steadily growing sector with an increase in licensed projects from 390 to 607 over the past two years. UIA also registered an increase in planned investments from Shs1.86 billion to Shs5.27 billion since 2020.