OPM Financial scandal: UGX 576M Spent On Fuel In Four Days

2051 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
As investigations into the office of the Prime Minister continue, the Public Accounts committee this week heard that 576 million shillings was spent on fuel alone in four days.

As investigations into the office of the Prime Minister continue, the Public Accounts committee this week heard that 576 million shillings was spent on fuel alone in four days.

The fuel was purchased from New Caltex Ntinda petrol station on the 6th of February 2012, 17th December, 5th and 16th January. The firm had been supplying the OPM with fuel for disaster and demining in Northern Uganda.

This payment was approved by Bigirimana on advice of Martin Owour the commissioner Disaster Preparedness, without any detail of the vehicles which consumed the fuel and the purpose. Besides no food was issued for transportation from the stores on these dates.

Parliaments’ Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is probing circumstances under which billions of shillings meant for the rehabilitation of the war-ravaged north under the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan were stolen from the OPM.

 

The Auditor general special investigations report   notes that this amount translates into 144 million shillings per day and this can fuel 48 trailers making a return journey to Karamoja. The AG concludes that this payment appears fictitious and therefore the funds are unaccounted for.

A review of the New Caltex Fuel station bank statements revealed that in a number of instances, funds deposited from OPM would be withdrawn lump sum shortly after, an indicator of retrieval by the sender. In her statement to police the manager of the station confessed that upon sending these funds, they would be retrieved by officials from OPM.

Jack Wamai Wamanga the Mbale Municpality MP and Paul Mwiru Vice chairperson of the committee asked Bigirimana if he knew that officials from OPM would go to the petrol station and ask for refunds.


//Cue in: “Surely after the…

Cue out:...that petrol station.”//


The special investigations into the OPM also noted that several requisitions for transporting food and non-food items had a component of fuel embedded in there. Naome Kabashashira the Ntungamo woman MP asked the PS if he intellectually ever questioned the use of the fuel since the auditor general concluded in his report that fuel was not drawn from the station.

//Cue in: “Intellectually did it…

Cue out:…they get more.”//

In a letter dated 25th January 2012 to the treasury commissioner Owour stated that in a meeting with donors, Uganda highlighted progress and challenges of clearing mines in Northern Uganda by the deadline of 30th August 2012.

To fulfill the deadline requirement Uganda made an appeal for mechanical equipment wolf bulldozers to clear the highly infested areas of Lamwo, Amuru and Kitgum district. Hiring the machines bigger than a military tank would cost one million dollars for eight months starting December 2011 to August 1st 2012.

Donors from Australia, Denmark and Norway agreed to jointly hire the two machines and 19 technical staff. Uganda would then contribute 2000 litres of fuel for daily operations since the machines consume 1000 litres daily.

 

//Cue in: “I have been…

Cue out:…for disaster management.”//

 

The Prime Minister’s office has a fleet of 392 vehicles which is controlled by the transport officer. In the period under review a total of 8.936 billion shillings was paid out for fuel and motor vehicle servicing.

6.850 billion shillings was paid to Caltex in the period under review. It is unclear how the company was procured. There is no evidence of background check or evaluation.

A search at the Company registry revealed that New Caltex Ntinda is only a business name registered in May 2000. No details of partners or business location were ever filed with the company registry. No fuel consumption statements were availed by OPM and the fuel station and as such it was not possible to ascertain the use of the fuel.

Apart from the 567 million shillings the auditor general also discovered that the fuel station received another payment of 526 million shillings which payment was made using forged signatures. Bigirimana said it was possible that former principal accountant Geoffrey Kazinda could have forged his signature to pay the money.