Following a probe at the Trade Ministry by MPs that recommended sacking of PS Geraldine Ssali, Budadiri West county Member of Parliament Nandala Mafabi also demanded that the petroleum company, Total Energies Uganda also should be held liable for having connived with Ministry officials by authorizing cash withdrawals of more than Shs360m on fuel cards by the Ministry staff within a short period of time.
According to official documents, the 357 million shillings were withdrawn at Bukoto Total Energy using fuel cards belonging to the three officers: Everest Ahimbisibwe, Nelson Balyejusa and Rosemary Asiimwe. These officers were only entitled to 500,000 shillings worth of fuel per month.
The three (3) transport officers from the Ministry were handed over to the police for their alleged involvement in the forgery of fuel cards, resulting in a loss of 357 million shillings.
SSALI FACES SACK
The Parliament’s Trade Committee has also asked Secretary to Treasury, Ramathan Ggoobi to sack the Permanent Secretary (PS) Ministry of Trade, Geraldine Ssali for inflating the price of renovation works at the Ministry of Trade offices at Farmers House by Shs2b.
The request is carried out in a series of recommendations from a report by the Committee led by Mbarara City Legislator Mwine Mpaka.
The report further seeks the help of Ggoobi to withdraw the contract of Sssali as an accounting officer of a government agency due to her failure to control the regularity and proper use of monies appropriated to the Ministry of Trade.
“The Committee therefore finds that Geraldine Ssali is personally liable for the dubious and mysterious inflation of the estimated contract price from Shs4.664b to Shs6.2b without any formal or legal justification,” the report reads.
The committee also wants the former PS for the Ministry, Grace Adong Choda investigated for initiating a request for a supplementary budget worth Shs8b for the rent of new offices based on personal conviction and sentiments that Farmer’s House which houses the Ministry’s offices was dilapidated and unfit for occupancy.
Trouble started for Ssali in July this year when the committee during a session heard that the ministry spent a whopping Shs400m to transfer documents from their head offices in Kampala to Entebbe to enable proper renovation.
The committee’s findings also suggested that the Ministry diverted Shs5 billion from funds meant for relocation to renovating the existing structure, contrary to the originally planned Shs3.1 billion.
Kalule had claimed the fuel was utilised by three officials at the Ministry, but these denied the allegations.
However, in her defence prior, Ssali said the team weighed all options and decided to renovate the current office space at a much lower cost than incurring recurrent costs on rent annually.
“The Ministry received clearance from the Solicitor General regarding the procurement method. If the funds were not used, they had to be returned to the Treasury as required by law under non-absorption of funds,” she said.
According to Ssali, the whole objective of the exercise was to save costs, considering that the government is currently undertaking a rationalisation of government agencies programme to save on costs like rent of government office space.
Ssali also revealed that it was the State Minister for Industries David Bahati who told her that Farmer’s House had been condemned hence the need to have the ministry relocated to the Kingdom Kampala building or King Ceaser Plaza.
In her submission, Permanent Secretary Geraldine Ssali told the committee that Minister David Bahati asked her to quicken the process of shifting the Ministry headquarters to a rented premise on her first day at the Ministry.
Ssali said her effort to get formal documents from the Managers of the two buildings was futile hence her decision to cancel the proposed deal.
However, according to the committee report, an investigation should be carried out regarding the process under which the renovation works at Farmer’s House were handed to Sarick Construction Company Ltd which is also accused of not remitting taxes to URA.
Another audit on the expenses of transferring documents by Ssali’s administration has been recommended by the committee. DEAR READER, DO YOU HAVE A HOT STORY YOU WOULD LIKE US TO PUBLISH…
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