Friday, January 25, 2013


On a serious note, Uganda is a sad story. When it comes to a depreciated currency which makes efforts of many useless, Uganda has a Gold Medal! Talk of disguised owners of arcades while more important buildings housing our embassies are rotting away! It is no surprise that these fellows see it best to capture their own Government! Uganda is a sad story. I feel unlucky to have been under Museveni's leadership for so many years. His 'dreams' will get Uganda into a ditch which only God may help, otherwise many Ugandans in responsible positions have been compromised and it remains only PRAYER to help us out of the sad situation! William Kituuka Kiwanuka ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Uganda’s embassies waste away as mission staff plunder millions. Publish Date: Aug 10, 2012 Uganda’s embassies waste away as mission staff plunder millions. The building housing Uganda’s embassy in Washington. Most of Uganda’s missions are operating in buildings that have been condemned. By Moses Walubiri The state of Uganda’s 29 embassies in different capitals is an embarrassment to the nation, the Auditor General has revealed. In his report for the financial year 2010/11, the Auditor General lays bare not only a string of accountability and procurement flaws, but also the near condemned buildings housing Uganda’s missions abroad. The report highlights the challenges and indignity facing Ugandan Foreign Service officers operating from facilities that have long been condemned by the authorities in those cities. RISKS Ugandan missions in Brussels, Dar es Salaam, Ottawa, Copenhagen, Paris, Rome, Abuja, Pretoria and New Delhi are run in buildings that could be condemned soon, according to the report. It notes that Uganda risks losing prime property, if it fails to urgently repair its mission buildings in Ottawa, Copenhagen and Brussels. “The mission stands to lose property in Brussels if funds are not availed to construct a new building within a specified time period. The chancery building in Ottawa could also be demolished if repairs are not done urgently,” reads the report. The ambassador’s official residence in Rome at the time of the audit reportedly had no curtains and the furniture belonged to the landlord. The Auditor General noted that a huge chunk of foreign mission budgets is spent on rent, where Uganda does not own property. Efforts to develop plots donated to Uganda in prime locations in Beijing, Abuja and Riyadh have hit a snag due to financial constraints. In Dar es Salaam, one of the mission’s three properties that were swapped for properties in Kampala may be condemned soon. The report notes that a proposal by a private developer to build 24 apartments on the mission’s plot in Dar es Salaam, has not yet been cleared by authorities in Kampala. The developer proposed to give 10 apartments to the mission and sell the 14 to recover money from the investment. In Pretoria, the ambassador’s official residence requires $386,981 (about sh958m) for repairs. However, the ‘poster child’ of dilapidated missions seems to be the former chancery building in Kinshasa, which was vandalised during instability. Although the building does not have windows, doors and a sewerage system, the Auditor General says Uganda can rake in millions in rent, if it takes advantage of the construction boom in Kinshasa. OVER SPENDING The Auditor General expressed concern over accountability queries ranging from wastefulness of funds by mission heads through committing the Government beyond mission budgets, spending non-tax revenue without approval from the treasury and flouting procurement rules. One such questionable expenditure was the renovation of the official residence of the mission head in Washington at $1.2m (about sh2.4b), after the initial cost was estimated at $394,150 (about sh975m). The Auditor General also raised concern over $220,709 (sh546m), which was spent on furnishing the ambassador’s residence. Also in contravention of the Public Finance and Accountability Act (PFAA) 2003, a host of missions spent over sh2b in non-tax revenue (mainly from visa fees) at source. Accounting officers are expected to adhere to budget allocations per vote or obtain permission prior to making any amendments to the approved budget in line with the PFAA. The report cites the Washington mission as the biggest culprit in flouting the PFAA. The mission claims of having remitted sh1b in non-tax revenue to the consolidated fund was not backed by an acknowledgement receipt from the treasury. The embassies overshot their budgets by sh1.1b, with the mission in Kinshasa (sh341m) and Canberra (sh183m) being the worst offenders. FLOUTING RULES The report also noted that most missions flouted guidelines governing procurement. The guidelines require each mission to procure goods or services in accordance with its approved budget. Missions in London, Dar es Salaam, Ottawa and Moscow carried out ad hoc and direct procurements to the tune of sh301m. In Guangzhou and New Delhi, contracts of three officers, including a high commissioner, had long expired although they continued to execute their duties. In Berlin, the mission had two unqualified staff on the payroll. “Most embassies do not even celebrate national days, or fly the flag of the country. They claim there is no money, yet a few people get the money and abuse it,” said a source. GOVERNMENT REACTS Government has moved fast to crack the whip on erring Foreign Service officers by recalling them. “The Kinshasa mission accounting officer has been recalled over a host of issues. His case has been committed to the ministry’s disciplinary committee,’’ James Mugume, the Permanent Secretary in the Foreign Affairs ministry, said. ‘‘If there is anything criminal, he will face the law,” he added. Sources told Saturday Vision that Foreign Service officers from six missions including Brussels could also be recalled to face disciplinary action over accountability issues. WAY FORWARD MP Jack Wamanga says replacing career diplomats with political appointees has messed Uganda’s missions abroad, adding that many of them do not know what they are doing. The foreign affairs committee chairperson, Alex Byarugaba, called for a sustainable source of funding and housing for the missions. Mugume said: ‘‘It is criminal to use non-tax revenue at source without approval of the treasury even amidst financial challenges.” ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Foreign Affairs minister decries state of Ugandan Embassies Publish Date: Jun 22, 2012 Foreign Affairs minister decries state of Ugandan embassies Oryem says it is hard to do his duty with the budget limited to domestic travel newvision By Mary Karugaba Any further cut of the ministry of foreign affairs budget will blight the already tattered image of the country, State minister of foreign affairs Okello Oryem has warned. Oryem stunned MPs on Budget Committee of Parliament when he narrated that it’s a daunting job to manage the country’s foreign affairs, with embassies abroad “dry on cash and the ministers’ budget reduced to domestic travel”. “Give us what is within the ceiling but that can allow me do my job,” Oryem told the committee discussing the supplementary funding to various government sectors. At the prompting of the MPs who were concerned about the poor state of Uganda’s missions abroad, the minister said the solution only lies in adequate funding. The minister appeared before the committee to defend an additional sh10b allocated to his ministry to save Uganda House in New York from demolition after it was condemned. MPs also reported that in South Africa, the ambassador sleeps with a basin in the bedroom because his house leaks. In Nairobi, the MPs said, the embassy curtains are torn while Kinshasa, India and Washington embassies are in bad shape. “The state of our embassies is wanting, the structures are old. We have no money even to celebrate Independence Day,” Oryem narrated as MPs quiet, listened. “If you could see the location of Uganda’s mission abroad, you cannot believe it,” he said adding that while embassies are supposed to be located in upscale areas (code A+), most of Uganda’s are not. “Foreign affairs is one of those major ministries but it’s left to whom it may concern. Because we are cadres, we get deployed and go on. ” Oryem told MPs that whereas he is supposed to shuttle between capitals of the world to monitor and secure Uganda’s interests, the travel budget for ministries has been cut. “My core job is to travel abroad. But how do you travel when the budget has been slashed and reduced to internal travel?” Oryem asked. He pointed out that when he travels abroad, his hosts chauffeur in limousines but get embarrassed when they visit and he is driving a squeaking seven-year old car. “In the plane, I seat in the business class when my colleagues in other countries are in first-class consulting.” Asked by Health Committee chairman Dr. Sam Lyomoki whether he had raised the issues in cabinet, Oryem answered in affirmative. “I have repeatedly told this to cabinet. I swore to always tell the President the truth. I have been a minister for long because I tell him the truth as it is.” The minister of finance, Maria Kiwanuka said she had also received the same concerns and was working out a way on how missions can prioritize their activities.

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