By Prisca Wanyenya
Officials at the Ugandan Embassy in Denmark diverted part of the money meant for repairs at the embassy, the auditor report has revealed. Out of the Shs300 Million released, Shs110 Million was diverted and Shs190 Million returned to the consolidated fund.
The details are disclosed in the report of the Auditor General following an audit into the financial statements of the embassy of the republic of Uganda in Copenhagen Denmark for the year ended June 2020. The report was only tabled last week before Parliament.
The Public Service Standing Orders, 2010 provides that there shall be one official residence either owned or rented by the Government in each country to which a Mission is accredited, which shall be occupied by the Head of Mission. The Uganda Government owns an official residence for the Head of Mission at Copenhagen Embassy located at Sofievej 15, 2900 Hellerup, Denmark.
However, in 2020, the official residence was occupied by the Administrative Attaché instead of the Head of Mission who opted to rent an apartment located at H. C. Andersens Blvd. 33 in Copenhagen at a cost of Shs266,991,068.
Alex Hope Mukubwa, former accounting officer at the Uganda Embassy in Denmark in an interview with the auditors explained that the Head of Mission opted to reside in the rented apartment, because the official residence was in a state of disrepair and would therefore not provide a befitting image for the Embassy and GoU.
A decision was made to allow the Administrative Attaché to stay in the Embassy official residence thereby saving an annual rent of 121,608,000).
During this time, the Embassy embarked on plans to refurbish the official residence and Shs300Million was released by the Ministry of Finance Planning through a supplementary budget for the purpose.
However, the refurbishment did not take place and Shs 190 Million was returned to the consolidated fund as required by the Public Finance and Management Act 2015 while Shs110Million was diverted.
Now, the Auditor General has warned that it might take a while before the Government releases fresh funds for the refurbishment of the chancery and residence further delaying their utilization.
Mukubwa blamed the failure by the Mission to utilise funds for refurbishment of properties on the difference in Public Procurement and Disposal and Assets regulations between Uganda and Denmark.
He said that the Danish bidders raised concerns about the General Conditions of Contract in the Solicitation document issued to them, as being general and yet, in Denmark there exists very specific conditions of Contract guiding Consultancy Services for building and construction works.
Hence no Danish Firms were not comfortable signing the procurement forms provided in the PPDA RFP Document format, which the Uganda Embassy had issued.
The Mission therefore requested the PPDA for an exception to use the Danish regulations and the consultancy bids were subsequently received and evaluated.
However, the Auditors rubbished the excuses given by Mukubwa deeming them as unsatisfactory as it did not address the issue of the diversion of the funds and cautioned the Mission to put in place better planning mechanisms to ensure that Government projects are implemented and completed within the planned period in line with regulation 11(2) of the Public Finance Management Regulations 2016.