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 Fundâ€™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 â€œhave become irredeemableâ€.
â€œUganda 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.â€
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. â€œWe shall not lose it (Round 3) much as we were a bit behind schedule.â€
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. â€œWe are finalising with the Round 7 funding. Applying for fresh grants would be illogical. We shall apply for Round 9,â€ 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 Presidentâ€™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.