Bank of Uganda (BoU) Governor Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile and his team on Tuesday tabled for the first time one of the controversial Shs357, 000 each pens before Parliament.
However, members on the Parliamentary committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) were not convinced with samples of the pens presented.
Consequently, MPs asked the Auditor General to investigate the authenticity of the pens.
Abdu Katuntu, the COSASE Chairman asked BoU officials if they put the pens through the authentication process.
“Are these genuine Cross pens? Did you examine these pens to establish they are Cross pens? We are going to pass over these pens to the Auditor General for authentication,” Katuntu said.
It is worth noting that BoU spent Shs125mn to procure 350 pens at Shs357, 000 each as souvenirs to mark its Golden Jubilee celebrations held in August 2016.
BoU officials had appeared before the Committee to answer audit queries raised in the 2013/2014 audit report.
BoU Secretary Susan Wasagali Kanyemibwa confessed before MPs that the procurement of the pens didn’t follow the normal procurement process and the Procurement Unit of the entity never handled this procurement.
The Cross Rolling Ball Pen which is Onyx Black AT0155-1 type is engraved with marking of Bank of Uganda
Apparently, the procurement of the controversial pens was initiated by the Communication Directorate headed by Christine Alupo.
According to the information obtained, the requisition was made on July 29th 2016, but the procurement was deferred for approval on August 4th 2016 after it was discovered that date on which the goods were required had elapsed.
However, the Procurement Department and Communication Department clashed, after the procurement unit rejected the price quoted by the Communications team.
In her defense, Alupo told off the Procurement team in her August 18th 2016 letter that the: “Pens and other branded gift items are meant for distribution among a specific list of recipients even after the event.”
She added: “While the ideal delivery date was earlier than the anniversary, the distribution at that stage was intended primarily for foreign guests, the rest of the recipients are local and distribution to them was intended for after the main event.”
Alupo also defended the prices, saying she was guided by online estimates (and specification) which the supplier (Aristioc) further specified after incorporating the costs of taxes and in freight.