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Parliament Calls For Sacking Of Trade Ministry PS Geraldine Ssali Over Shs2bn Inflated Renovation Contract

Parliament has recommended for the sacking of Geraldine Ssali (pictured), the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives over allegations of inflating the price for the renovation works at the Ministry Head Quarters at Farmers House in Kampala.

The decision was part of the 16 recommendations contained in the report by Parliament’s Trade and Tourism Committee following probe into the utilisation of Shs5bn that was meant for the acquisition of new office Space at Kingdom Hall Kampala, but the top officials at the Ministry instead opted to use the funds to carry out renovations, a decision that raised queries than the Ministry was able to provide, thus prompting prove into the expenditure.

Mwine Mpaka, Chairperson Parliament’s Trade Committee while presenting the report faulted Ssali for failing to regulate and ensure proper utilisation of funds which saw the cost of works inflated to a tune of Shs2bn.

“The Committee therefore finds that the Permanent Secretary Geraldiine Ssali is personally liable for the dubious and mysterious inflation of the estimated contract price from Shs4.664Bn to Shs6.2Bn without any formal or legal justification,” remarked Mpaka.

In sealing Ssali’s fate, Mpaka called on the Secretary to Treasury, Ramathan Ggoogbi who is charged with supervising all Permanent Secretaries and accounting officers to relieve Ssali of her duties for causing Government financial loss.

“The PSST exercise his authority  to withdraw the appointment and designation of Ssali as an Accounting Officer of Ministry of Trade in view of her failure to control the regularity and proper use of money appropriated to the vote in regard to the procurement of renovation works,” said Mpaka.

Parliament also recommended for an investigation into the edalings of Grace Choda, former Acting Permanent Secretary Ministry of Trade by both the Inspectorate of Government and the DPP with a view of prosecution for initiating a request for supplementary budget worth Shs8Bn for rent new office premises at Kingdom Kampala by MTIC; based on personal conviction and sentiments that Farmer’s House was dilapidated and unfit for occupancy.

Parliament also recommended to have the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) to conduct an investigation into the procurement process that resulted into the award of the renovation works at Farmer’s House to Sarick construction company Ltd with a view to enabling the amendment or cancellation of the contract in the interest of Government.

This was after the Trade Committee revealed that despite receiving payment amounting to Shs4.8Bn for the works, the contractor Sarick Construction Company refused to remit18% Value Added Tax to Uganda Revenue Authority as required by the law, and the contractor also didn’t submit a performance guarantee as required per bid documents.

Parliament also recommended for the prosecution of Daniel Kalule (Transport Officer, Ministry of Trade for facilitating the creation of ghost fuel cards, that resulted into the loss of government funds amounting to Shs362,316,812

Kalule had informed the Committee that the fuel had been utilised on seven fuel cards at Total Energies fuel stations by; Nelson Balyejusa (Senior Accountant), Everest Ahimbisibwe (Senior Assistant Secretary and Rosemary Asiimwe who all denied knowledge of consuming the fuel and Kalule failed to furnish the Committee with evidence of ever handing over the fuel cards to the trio.

Parliament also recommended for a special investigation under section 50 of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2009 to be undertaken by the DPP on the fuel expenditures from fuel cards designated to Eng. Deo Byaruhanga, after the report revealed that Shs217,593,194  for the transportation of documents from Farmers House in Kampala to Entebbe after he claimed to have used fuel amounting to Shs2M for each trip made between Kampala and Entebbe.

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