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Parliament Orders Forensic Audit Into Shs9.6bn OPM Coffee Deal With Inspire Africa

The Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament, Anita Among has ordered for an independent investigation into Shs9.6bn spent by Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to teach Ugandans how to drink coffee, calling for the recovery of the funds from all individuals involved in this nugatory expenditure.

This followed a report by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) read by Medard Sseggona who informed Parliament that OPM awarded the Shs.9.662Bn contract to Inspire Africa (U) Ltd of which; training youths in Production of coffee cost Shs3.831Bn, Consumption of coffee & putting up coffee shops cost Shs1.906Bn, Capacity Building (teaching the youth financial literacy & business management skills) cost Shs2.652Bn & project administration cost Shs1.271Bn.

“The coffee consumption in quotes is a nugatory expenditure, can we have an independent investigation on this matter? Let us have this matter investigated on its own, we aren’t going to wait for the Treasury Memorandum. The person responsible for it should bear the liability and we need a serious investigation,” Among said.

Sseggona said although the contract provided for the establishment of coffee shops in Arua, Mbale, Lira, Gulu and Tororo, physical inspections revealed that except for Gulu, the coffee shops were either non-existent in some places or non-operational in areas where they were supposed to be placed.

Sseggona, who’s also the Chairperson Public Accounts Committee, said that the funds were invested in a project that was not well thought out and no amount of justification can be placed on this expenditure.

“That a forensic investigation be carried out by the Inspectorate of Government and other investigative arms of Government. If found wanting, the Accounting Officer and the Project Director for NUSAF project should be prosecuted for any loss of funds, and recovery mechanism be instituted within six months of adoption of this report,” said Sseggona.

John Teira (Bugabula North), called on Parliament to ensure that officials behind this wasteful expenditure are punished remarking, “If we don’t take action against the specific officers who perpetrated this, very soon the Ministry of Health will come up with a budget on how to teach Ugandans on how to use condoms. I mean, anyone is going to come up with anything else.”

The Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga argued that the coffee scandal should be an opportunity for Parliament to be stricter on some of these social action programmes because most times, the beneficiaries settle for a raw deal and go home empty handed.

“The whole idea of promoting coffee is being handled at the tail end, before promoting production, we are promoting consumption of what isn’t available. I am a coffee farmer at the large scale and as I speak, there isn’t enough coffee to supply the market, and we should be supporting the communities to grow coffee, those who want to consume coffee will find motivation to take the coffee, but at least there is a general motivation of selling to get money, that we must promote,” said Mpuuga.

However, the Third Deputy Prime Minister, Rukia Nakadama rejected the name given to the project, saying, “The name that was given for drinking coffee, it was for popularizing coffee intake, not to teach people how to drink coffee. I think it was given a wrong heading. It should be popularizing the intake of coffee.”

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