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UIA bosses grilled over inflated expenditure, excess money collection

Uganda Investment Authority Director General, Mr Robert Mukiza appearing before the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (COSASE) at parliament yesterday. PHOTO/Monitor

Kampala, (UG):- The Public Accounts Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) has tasked the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) Director General Mr Robert Mukiza to explain the unauthorised use of Shs55 million for sponsorships of investment promotional events, which is outlawed in the Charter for Fiscal Responsibility.

The MPs also demanded to know why the UIA officials planned to collect a Non-Tax Revenue (NTR) of Shs418m but ended up collecting Shs460m in the year under review.

The queries on the surplus were raised in the findings of the Auditor General’s Report for FY 2022/2023.

 According to the Auditor General’s report; “UIA budgeted to collect Shs418m during the year for the approved NTR estimates for the FY 2022/2023. However, by the end of the year, Shs460m had been collected, representing a 10 per cent surplus.”

 “Over collection of NTR at the vote level may be an indication that the NTR targets set were low compared to the Authority’s revenue potential,” the report added. 

The MPs were also displeased to learn that during FY2021/2022 as the country weathered the effects of Covid-19; UIA managed to collect Shs435m in NTR. 

However, UI Boss Robert Mukiza, in response to the Auditor General’s queries, pegged the ‘over performance’ on the stringent measures enforced by the UIA management.  

“The authority has a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with different partnering institutions to support investment promotion, business development, and Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) formalisation. We are required to contribute to sponsoring events that promote investments in the country. So the most possible way to address MoUs and sponsorships was through the use of consultancy services fund,” he said.

Mukiza added that UIA was already putting in place measures to implement the Auditor General’s recommendation to avoid such reoccurrence.

“Office of the Auditor General (OAG) advised that realistic budgets are prepared to avoid situations where activities are charged on wrong accounts, where their accounts have either been exhausted or not provided for.”

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Hon. Sseggona, also Busiro County East MP, the chairperson of COSASE demanded a list of the promotional events that compelled UIA to flout financial expenditure regulations.

“We are dealing with an issue of mischarge where the law is clear, the evidence is on the wall, the Auditor General made his recommendation, and we shall make our judgement. We wish to see the list of events sponsored at that amount,” Ssegona said.

UIA’s Director for Investment Promotion and Business Development, Mr Martin Muhangi who accompanied Mukiza before the committee on Tuesday said they co-sponsored regional investment events such as the Kasese Rwenzori Business Forum, the Rising Woman Event, EAC Business Forum, West Nile Investment Forum and Northern Uganda Investment Forum.

MPs were equally concerned with glitches in the recruitment process where UIA failed to recruit staff as per the OAG report. The report indicates that out of Shs49.9 billion released to UIA, only Shs49.62 was spent leaving unutilised funds due to failed recruitment.

Legislators did not buy into UIA’s justification that the failed attempt at recruitment was caused by failure to get the required competence.

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“I would imagine UIA with their mandate cannot fail to get the candidates for their jobs because the work they do is not rocket science. We need to know if there were delays in securing a consultant hiring firm or whether there was a delay in-house,” said Hon. David Karubanga (NRM, Kigorobya County).

Ssegona guided that the committee would ascertain the failed attempts at recruitment by scrutinizing recruitment requirements such as the quality of people UIA required and the calibre of applicants they received.

The committee commended UIA on the steadily growing sector with an increase in licensed projects from 390 to 607 over the past two years. UIA also registered an increase in planned investments from Shs1.86 billion to Shs5.27 billion since 2020.

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