All is not well at Kampala-Lumumba Avenue based National Building Review Board–NBRB, this publication can exclusively report.
And this is bad news for Gen.Museveni’s NRM government given that there has been uproar about increasing cases of buildings erected without proper approvals and those caving in day and night only to claim lives.
Therefore, it is one area where Gen.Museveni would be willing to crush whoever messes up with it given that in 1986 he vowed to protect Ugandans and their property at all costs but here is NBRB playing sabotage games.
For the uninitiated, NBRB falls under the Ministry of Works and Transport established by the Building Control Act, 2013. The Board is mandated to monitor building developments; ensure that the design and construction of buildings and utilities to which the public is to have access cater for persons with disabilities; oversee, inspect and monitor the operations of Building Committees; hear and determine appeals from persons dissatisfied with the decisions of a Building Committee; and to determine the fees to be charged by urban and district building committees for approval of plans, issue of building permits and occupation permits.
It is headed by an executive secretary who is currently Eng. Flavia Bwire and her political supervisor is works minister Gen. Katumba Wamala. But apparently it is embroiled in each and every scandal you have ever heard of.
If news coming from there is to go by, then Gen. Museveni may need to think about kicking the ass.
According to a whistleblower report in our possession, everything is a mess at NBRB and agencies like the IGG, SHACU, Auditor General have shown little appetite to probe what is happening there or could have been compromised or intimidated to back off.
According to information obtained, morale is low at the agency and the atmosphere is toxic. Some staffers don’t see eye to eye including their boss, Eng. Flavia who some staff these days blast openly only to attract her wrath in the form of knifing. NBRB has 46 members of staff.
ROT AT GLANCE: FLOUTING OF PROCUREMENT PROCEDURES
The whistleblower paints NBRB’s Eng.Flavia’s lead secretariat as an entity which does not follow GoU procurement procedures. One of those cited is the procurement of stationery in FY 2020/21. That in November 2020, the Executive Secretary procured stationary and computer cartridges and toner worth Shs325 million split into two separate procurements—Shs135,235,847 million from Valu Valu technocrats limited and Shs188,800,000 Million from Kamage Enterprises Limited.
Curiously the 46 staffers at the time did not have computers and printers to consume the Shs325m stationery. That even after purported procurement, bulk documents like investigations reports continued to be printed from outside the office. And to make matters worse, by March 2021, stationery was being purchased from the supermarkets using the office imprest, ES’s personal funds and included in the budget for field activities.
That this curiously prompted another bulk procurement of stationery and photocopier toners and cartridges in three batches between March and June of 2021. On 21st June, Shs31,789,200 million and Shs 34,739,200m on June 28 was paid to Kamage Enterprises Limited for stationery respectively. More so, Shs92,748,000 million was on June 28, paid to gulf Africa ltd for toner.
The NBRB office then had only three printers in which the said cartridges were reportedly to be used. Surprisingly, the same procurement happened when there was no photocopier at the NBRB office. As if that was not enough, the procurement was made in less than one week to the end of the financial year – 30th June 2021.
It is further reported that seven small and substandard printers were also procured in the last week of June 2021 yet staff did not have office computers.
To shed more light, funds for purchase of the printers and other office consumables were reportedly advanced to some staff’s individual accounts. For instance Shs 10,100,000 million was advanced to a bank Account of an office Assistant identified as Cleighton Kansiime on June 28 for stationery.
The Executive Secretary also reportedly forced and pressurized some staff to requisition and accept advance payments into their bank accounts which is contrary to treasury instructions of 2017.
“Advancing funds to staff accounts is designed to divert funds and steal from the consolidated fund. The procurements did not follow the laid out procedures. This was gross abuse of the PPDA Act, Regulations and mismanagement of government funds,” the whistleblower points out and further adds: “The above procurements were conducted during the lockdown when majority of the staff were out of office. The user Department was not involved in the process. The NBRB approved procurement plan was not followed. All the above procurements were outside the procurement plan. This is an irregularity as per the PPDA laws.”
The report further reveals that all these procurements were done by the ES and one Asha Arinda, without the involvement of management and the user department.
That the procurement officer who had been appointed on temporary contract to support NBRB was reportedly ignored and exited in May 2021 by the Executive Secretary under unclear circumstances. The ES who was aware of the expiry of the procurement officer’s contract disappeared and intentionally ceased from appraising her until the contract expired. “The intention was to put her out of the way so that the procurements can be done without following the laid out procedures,” claims the whistleblower in a report to President Museveni, IGG and the Auditor General.
UNLAWFUL EXTENSION OF CONTRACTS FOR INCOMPETENT CONTRACTORS
According to the whistleblower, in February 2021 the Ministry of Works and Transport and MFI document Solutions Ltd signed a contract worth Shs170,999,936 million for the supply, delivery and installation of ICT equipment for the NBRB within 5-6 weeks from contract signature.
But by the end of 2020/2021 FY, the ICT equipment had not been delivered due to failure on the part of the supplier (MFI). However, according to the statement of account for NBRB the monies meant for payment of computers upon delivery was advanced to Mt. Elgon Labour Based Training Centre on 28th, June 2021.
The supplier (MFI) requested an extension of the Contract on two occasions. The ES reportedly cleared these extensions without the requisite approval from the Accounting Officer as required by the PPDA laws.
“On 7th June 2021 the Executive Secretary [Flavia] advised against termination of the Contract to avoid the earmarked money from going back to the consolidated fund. This was a sinister move that points to personal interest in the contract and a scheme to beat the Government system that requires all funds not consumed in a given year to be returned to the consolidated fund. Despite the recommendation by the Contract manager and advice from the legal office, the contract was extended….” The whistleblower further points out that because of this delay in delivery of computers, some staff have improvised and purchased personal computers in order to perform their given tasks.
LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY AND MISUSE OF FUNDS
According to the whistleblower, there is no disclosure and accountability of the funds released and spent by NBRB. “The Board was appointed to Office effective July 2018 and since then, the Board has held 17 Board Meetings and received over 7 billion from the Government of Uganda. However, there is no record of disclosure and accountability for expenditure of funds to the Board.”
For instance, that in June 2021, a supplementary budget of Shs748,384,143 million was released to NBRB. Similarly, on 7th May 2021, Shs 1,492,185,207bn had also been released by the mother ministry of works.
However, according to the whistleblower, “this release was never brought to the attention of the Board at its 17th Board Meeting held on 25th May 2021. Instead ES used all kinds of tricks to ensure that the funds were spent by 30th June 2021. How the funds were spent is still a puzzle.”
The report further adds: “In order to disguise and confuse the Accounting Officer claims were made and money paid to different officer’s bank accounts including people who are not staff of NBRB and companies not prequalified as per the PPDA regulations.”
Firms like Brand design curiously were paid Shs 4,230,000 million. Another payment of Shs28,480,000 million was reportedly paid for a ghost workshop to Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel on 2nd June 2021. On 14th June 2021, Fuel amounting to Shs50 million was reportedly paid to vivo energy for planned activities.
“How fuel worth Shs50m was spent in two weeks for a small organization like NBRB with only 3 vehicles is very unclear and questionable. This happened during lock down when there was restriction of movement of vehicles. The ES has been spending funds without following the approved budget and as a result haphazard and unclear expenditures have been made,” the report further exposes.
ALLEGED TAX EVASION
The report further claims that the Executive Secretary is paid entertainment and housing allowances and these have never been taxed as per the Income Tax Act. “The ES in her wisdom drafted her own contract and exempted the payment of tax on housing and entertainment allowances causing the Government a Financial loss of over UGX 23,000,000/= for FY 2020/21. To note, the Income Tax Act takes precedence over any other documents.”
RECRUITMENT OF STAFF BASED ON DISCRIMINATION, FAVOR AND PERSONAL
There are also some recruitments that have been baffling staff at NBRB, according to the whistleblower.
These include the appointment of Asha Arinda as Executive Assistant to the Executive Secretary and Eric Kagoda as Manager, Finance and Administration with no qualifications in Finance but ICT.
The staff at the NBRB raised concerns about this irregular appointment however, the ES ignored any of the advice given. The HR reportedly advised against the appointment of Kagoda on grounds that he had no qualifications for the positions that were being advanced. Without the HR’s involvement, the ES forwarded the matter of Kagoda for appointment to the Board for approval, a decision they indeed ratified. It is not clear whether Kagoda is still at NBRB.
That also appointed Executive Assistant- Arinda (position not in the approved structure) works in both NBRB and Ministry of Works and Transport contrary to the law.
“Whereas the ES wrote to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works and Transport seeking support of an engineer to join the Compliance and Investigations Committee of the Secretariat, the Commissioner in Ministry of Works and Transport nominated Asha who is not a registered engineer to support NBRB. All professional staff of NBRB are required to be registered by the relevant professional bodies. The appointment of Asha was irregular and without the approval of the Permanent Secretary contrary to the Public Service Standing Orders which require any temporary appointments to be made by the Responsible Officer,” the report observes.
“The Compliance and Investigations Committee for the secretariat mentioned in the letter has since been dissolved. However, Arinda continuously occupies the position at NBRB and has now been unlawfully appointed by the ES as the Executive Assistant, a position which is not in the current NBRB approved structure. Ms. Asha Arinda earns both from the Ministry of Works and Transport and NBRB funds. She is involved in all activities of the Board …In undertaking these activities Arinda interferes in the duties of the registered engineers and other professional staff who were recruited by the Board for that purpose. She denies other relevant staff the opportunity to perform their duties.”
That she has now become the most hated staffer at NBRB because staff and functions of other offices have been suffocated.
This is how whistleblower drives the point home: “She performs all board functions including the roles of Senior Personal Secretary, Finance, Legal, HR, Procurement, Transport Officer (fleet manager) , sometimes investigations and compliance. Key staff were denied movement stickers during lock down in order to keep them away from the office. This was a plot to ensure that funds released are diverted without any questioning.” Until recently most of these positions have been vacant, a decision which the whistleblower says was deliberate. We recently exclusively reported about alleged flaws in the ongoing recruitment exercise here
More so, until this year, staffers like the Public Relations Officer-Herbert Zziwa had been employed in both NBRB and NTV. NBRB has been contacted for a comment. More rot will be exposed in our subsequent publication including the fallout between the ES and the senior legal officer and why NBRB staff feel Eng.Flavia is a bad boss and rate her lowly. DO YOU HAVE A HOT STORY (CHEATERS, DIVORCE, VIDEOS, CORRUPTION, LAND WRANGLES, EXPOSES …ETAL) YOU WOULD LIKE US TO PUBLISH? CALL/TEXT/WHATSAPP 0777959024 OR EMAIL:email@example.com.