Officials from the Cotton Development Organisation (CDO) have put the blame of anomalies in Ginneries on the Ginnery owners and Operators. They said that CDO carries out annual inspections of ginneries and makes recommendations to rectify any anomalies.
This was before the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) where the Executive Director of CDO Jolly Sabune had appeared to answer to the different queries that the Auditor General’s report of June 2011 raised against the organization.
Sabune appeared before the committee with Lubwama Damalie, the Marketing and Production Manager in CDO, and Margret Ngabo the Principal Accountant in CDO.
Sabune told the committee that every year CDO Ginning and Technical department carries out detailed compliance inspection in all ginneries between June and July and each ginnery management is given a comprehensive check-list of all technical remedial actions they have to do before they are registered to gin.
She noted that delays in implementation of some remedial actions are as a result of errant ginners especially in parts of the country with few ginneries citing Northern and mid-Western regions.
The auditor general’s report showed that an inspection of the East Acholi, odokomit and Icheme ginneries in Acholi and Lango sub regions revealed lack of adequate storage facilities resulting in cotton and its products being kept in the open thus exposing them to harsh weather conditions with the negative consequences of loss of quality and value.
The report also noted inadequate fire fighting system as the fire fire extinguishers were kept in a switch room where welding activity goes on most of the time for the case of East Acholi ginnery and as a result of inadequacies in the fire fighting systems in the ginneries, it was reported that fire had destroyed cotton worth shs 100 million at East Acholi Cooperative Union Ginnery.
The Cotton Development Act of 1994 requires CDO to revoke registration certificates if a ginnery breaches the conditions of having fire extinguishers and others.
However Sabune told the Committee that if CDO was to cancel registration certificates the errant ginners and their agents would in turn stop buying cotton from the farmers and politicize their action by blaming CDO. She also noted that the vacuum caused by ginners withdrawing from farmers would make the farmers suffer more and even make middlemen and speculators cheat farmers by offering low prices for cotton.
MP Mathias Nsubuga, a member of the committee, questioned the absence of cotton ginneries in some areas or regions citing Buganda region. He said that the crop is of importance and was previously grown by the people but that there is no action being taken by CDO to see that the crop is grown.
Sabune noted that CDO tried to revive the growing of cotton in the region especially in Bamunanika and Mubende but crops like coffee and others that are majorly grown in Buganda were preferred to cotton growing.
MP Brenda Nabukenya, representing Luweero district and a member of the committee, demanded that CDO provides the Committee with the earnings that cotton ginneries under CDO sources the country. Sabune agreed to offer to the committee records since 1994. She said that the organization should not be blamed for the increase or decrease in the production since the major part of growing the crop lies in the hands of the growers.
The other queries that the CDO has to answer to the committee which were raised in the Auditor General’s report are the Weaknesses in Financial Management at the Northern Regional field Office in 2011, Inadequate controls in IT systems, lack of an Audit Committee and others.