Time is now to get accountability from the NRM Government. The past is full of evidence of mess with public funds, this has to stop. We want better accountability. This business of stealing has to stop.
William Kituuka Kiwanuka
UGANDA LOSES $12M GLOBAL FUND
Tuesday, 28th October, 2008
By Charles Wendo & Conan Businge
UGANDA has lost $12m (about sh25b) from the Global Fund over poor accountability.
Out of $36m allocated to the country in 2003 for HIV/AIDS activities under Round One, over $10m has not been released as the Fund was not satisfied with how the first installments were used.
Another $24m was allocated in 2004 for malaria activities under Round 2, but $2m has not been disbursed, according to the Fund’s website www.theglobalfund.org.
According to Aidspan, an independent watchdog that monitors the Fund worldwide, the two grants are behind schedule by 40 months and Uganda should have accounted for the first installments.
An official of the NGO told The New Vision that due to the huge time lag, the withheld grants “have become irredeemable”.
“Uganda failed to satisfy the Global Fund in time that the arrangements put in place after the suspension were good enough to protect their money in Uganda.”
Uganda was in 2005 suspended from receiving Global Fund money over irregularities in the administration of the finances.
However, Uganda now hopes to get funds under Round 3 and Round 7.
Jim Arinaitwe, the Global Fund co-ordinator at the Uganda AIDS Commission, said next week Uganda would get another disbursement of $30m (about sh61b) under Round 3. “We shall not lose it (Round 3) much as we were a bit behind schedule.”
Arinaitwe said another $70m, dubbed Round 7, is expected in December. Under Round 7, the Global Fund approved $70m for HIV and another $51m for malaria.
As a result of delays in the first seven rounds, Uganda could not apply for Round 8 grants, whose application deadline was July 1. “We are finalising with the Round 7 funding. Applying for fresh grants would be illogical. We shall apply for Round 9,” said a source at the Uganda AIDS Commission.
During the international AIDS conference in Mexico in July, the Global Fund announced that 97 countries had asked for $6.4b in Round 8, the highest figure since the Fund was set up.
The Fund is already calling for fresh applications for Round 9 grants. The deadline is January 2009. Uganda received its first Global Fund grant of $45m in 2005, but was suspended soon after over allegations of fraud.
A commission of inquiry headed by Justice James Ogoola reported that the funds were grossly mismanaged.
This year, the Government, after a two-year delay and under pressure from donors, begun to prosecute people alleged to have embezzled the money. Among those implicated were former health ministers Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi, Mike Mukula and Dr. Alex Kamugisha.
The director of economic affairs in the President’s Office, Teddy Cheeye, and the former production manager of Uganda Television, Fred Kavuma, were this month the first to be prosecuted in the scandal.
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS QUESTIONED OVER DRUG THEFTS
120 government officials are being questioned and investigated over embezzlement and abuse of office. The case involves stolen drugs worth over sh5 billion and of the 120, 21 have already been convicted while other files are submitted to the director of public prosecutions.
The Director of the Medicine and Health Service Delivery Monitoring Unit in the office of the President, Dr. Atwine Diana, in a press conference at the Media Center said the officials are now being investigated and that the cases involve senior officials. "All cases involve senior officials. Some are auditors and others are in charge of drugs," she said.
A senior planner in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Samuel Kamba was among those convicted for drug theft, something that made Dr. Atwine react. She told journalists that Dr. Kamba was sentenced to 3 years in prison by the Anti-corruption and he has to pay sh37 million which was part of sh48 million he requisitioned for the annual health sector performance report for the year 2008/2009.
Dr. Atwine added that last week, two medical officers were arrested over drug theft but did not mention their names. She went on to defend Anti-corruption over the allegations of the public that they only target 'small fish' and explained that the 'big fish' needed a lot of time since there were large chunks of money involved.
She went on to urge the public to volunteer information relating to drug theft through the too-free line 0800100447 or 0414-288 445/2. The monitoring unit was created in 2009 and its main role was to evaluate the performance of health centers but has gone ahead and widened it to look at how drugs are ordered, received and distributed.
Anti-corruption team does not deal only with the theft of drugs but also other forms of corruption. Last year, a CHOGM probe was made which looked into the usage of the CHOGM funds in 2007 when Uganda held the CHOGM meeting. Several ministers were cited and several were exposed for their misappropriation of funds.
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