Legislators call for audit of Covid-19 expenditures

Hon Katuntu moves to lay on Table the copies of the report and minutes of the taskforce

Kampala – The Parliamentary Task Force on the national Covid-19 response has tasked Auditor-General to institute a forensic audit into all Covid-19 expenditures to ascertain value for money.

In its report presented to Parliament on 03 August 2021, the task force stated that the government provided UGX4trillion to finance Covid-19 expenditure since its onset in March 2020.

The report states that UGX314 billion was provided in 2019/2020, UGX2.7trillion for 2020/2021 and UGX932 billion for 2021/22.

The task force, however, found that whilst Parliament appropriated UGX22 billion to support the creation of 20 isolation centres in each district and undertake surveillance centres as a means of slowing down disease transmission, no district has an isolation centre.

“Government should submit detailed accountability to Parliament for UGX22 billion to facilitate the establishment of 20 isolation centres per district indicating the location in each district where such facilities were established,” Hon. Dicksons Kateshumbwa (NRM, Sheema Municipality) said while presenting part of the report on accountability and expenditures.

He also reported that a review of the external financing accountabilities submitted by the Ministry of Health revealed that most of the items that were funded were similar in nature and purpose as those funded using the government budget.

“The Ministry of Health reported that UGX389 billion was received as external financing for the period March 2019 to June 2021. The contingency emergency response funds were spent on coordination, risk communication, ICT innovations, among others,” Kateshumbwa added.

Bugweri County MP, Hon Abdu Katuntu who is also the chairperson of the task force said the government is still spending large sums of money on Covid-19 containment measures at the expense of mass vaccination.

MP Dicksons Kateshumbwa

“There is an urgent need to prioritise vaccination of the 21.9 million Ugandans over the age of 18. The 4.3 million doses required should be sourced through donations, direct procurement and if possible, through private companies,” he said.

The task force proposed the creation of a Covid-19 Fund to centrally receive and deploy all resources related to the management of the Covid-19 pandemic to avoid leakages, diversions and unclear prioritization.

“The task force noted that some of the accountability issues raised by the Auditor-General on the management of Covid-19 funds resulted from the haphazard management of available funds without a central collection and disbursement point,” the report read in part.

The MPs also found out that health facilities were in dire need of Intensive Care Units, assorted equipment such as standard ICU beds, enough oxygen and oxygen cylinders.

“The task force recommends that the Ministry of Health follows proper planning procedures before haphazard procurement and distribution of equipment,” the report stated.

The task force was constituted by the Deputy Speaker, Anita Among comprising regional teams that visited Northern, Eastern, Western and Central regions.

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The objective of the task force which commenced work on June 29 was to among others, inquire into and report on the government’s preparedness and response to Covid-19 and to provide an assessment of the health impact of Covid-19 in the community and country at large.

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