By Patrick Jaramogi
A select committee instituted by the National Forestry Authority (NFA) to investigate the NFA/ World Bank EMCBP 11 has unearthed cases of corruption and called for stringent action against the implicated staff.
The report released recently noted that there were many cases of corruption. It also noted that staff that remain principal on work ethics and values were alienated and faced the danger of their contracts not being renewed.
The committee chaired by former Maruzi MP David Ebong and senior educationist Sarah Nkonge was directed by NFA the board of directors to undertake the investigations.
The committee commenced its work in May and ended on July 1.
According to the audit report, the committee discovered, among others, flawed procurement procedures.
“The project was to establish fully fledged nurseries at North Rwenzori and Kasagala to cater for the provision of seedlings. The nurseries construction was contracted out to M/S Mani Engineering Ltd. But the nursery was an outcome of the project rather than providing seedlings access during the project. These resulted into double expenditures on the same line item,” noted the report.
The committee observed that due to flawed procurement procedures, several contracts were awarded to local seedling producers for supply of seedlings.
The seeds were procured both locally and internationally for the project, yet NFA Tree Centre was reimbursed money for producing seedlings for the project.
They noted that the project incurred cost of transporting seedlings from NFA nurseries to the ranges and/or project areas.
“The established nurseries did not meet the project requirements due to late establishments by the contractors. The nurseries constructed at North Rwenzori and Kasagala were completed when the project was almost coming to an end and yet the tender award was given at the beginning of the project,” stated the report.
“This demonstrated lack of supervision and collusion by both NFA staff and the contractor to defraud the institution. Accounts and procurement departments and contractors are the major players in the delay of executing the project activities,” the report noted.
The committee said much as a contract was awarded for the procurement of seeds from M/S Schukar and CIA, a Brazil-based firm, they were not able to ascertain the delivery of the seeds.
“The NFA Tree centre could not avail to the investigation team the relevant documents such as payment vouchers and delivery notes despite several reminders to management. The final account indicated that payment was made direct from the Bank of Uganda project account,” noted the report.
The committee discovered that a contract worth $134,000 was awarded to M/S Unique GMBH Germany and was duly paid, though investigation revealed that this contract was signed in Kampala on November, 17, 2011.
M/S Unique GMBH delivered the document (PDD report) on June 8, 2012, towards the end of the project.
The committee recommended further investigations to ascertain if the PDD report was a project outcome or was intended to guide project implementation.
“The project was implemented without expert technical support despite heavy expenditure on this consultancy,” noted the report.
The committed found out that there was no value for money for the various expenditures.
“Most expenditure in this project was overvalued three or more folds above the market rate.”
The committee also discovered anomalies in the price tag put for boundary survey openings in North Rwenzori and Kasagala.
“A contract worth sh159.030.000 was awarded to Ms. Realtex Consult, and sh106.310.000 was for Kasagala Central Reserve and sh52.720.000 was for North Rwenzori.
“It is noted that the total boundary for opening in Kasagala is 93km and for the total as indicated implies the price per kilometre was sh1,143,118 over and above the NFA standardised rate of 400,000 per kilometer,”.
The committee found out that the constructions and installations of permanent boundary markers/pillars at North Rwenzori and Kasagala were also exaggerated.
The committee recommended that legal action be taken against the contracted companies for connivance with officials in executing an illegal contract.