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Uganda: BOU Officials Fail to Defend Golden Jubilee Expenditure

PARLIAMENT- Bank of Uganda officials have failed to produce 154 audit reports related to three financial years and an unspecified number of contracts for money running into billions that was spent to bankroll the central bank’s lavish golden jubilee celebrations in 2016.

BoU@50 celebrations, which were held in 2016, have been thrown back into the spotlight after it emerged that the Central Bank spent Shs125 million to buy 350 pens, a transaction that is now a subject of separate inquiries by Parliament and the Auditor General.

BoU officials led by Governor Tumusiime Mutebile and Secretary Susan Wasagali Kanyemibwa on Tuesday appeared before a Parliamentary Committee that is investigating the bank but the sitting ran into disarray as the officials failed to table the much sought- after audit reports and contracts.

BoU officials failed to show evidence  how Shs700 million was spent on an activity marked as School Challenges ahead of the Golden Jubilee celebrations, Shs100 million for refreshments and a cocktail at the Serena Hotel and Shs144 milllion for accommodation of golden jubilee guests.

On the missing audit reports, Ms Kanyemibwa explained that each BoU department makes particular audits and the audit reports are submitted to the board on a quarterly basis.

“The audit process is such that we make individual reports on each department and then at the end of every quarter, we extract issues that have been raised for action by management and also to see the status on how far management has[gone] to implement those issues,” Ms Kanyemibwa said.

Ms Kanyemibwa’s explanation was, however, treated with scepticism by MPs who said that the bank officials were hiding information related to the money that was spent on BoU@50 celebrations.

Committee Chairman, Mr Abdu Katuntu demanded that all audit reports related to Bank of Uganda’s financial operations and tenders during the Golden Jubilee celebrations.

“What we wanted are audit reports .Can you please produce the audit reports. Can you have all those by close of business tomorrow [Wednesday]. Please do not withhold [information]. For heaven’s sake, do not withhold,” Mr Katuntu said.

The Central Bank is also expected to present reports related to the liquidation of Greenland Bank, International Credit Bank (ICB), Global Trust and the National Bank of Commerce.

Meanwhile, the Auditor General (AG) will now conduct an inquiry to establish whether the 350 pens bought at Shs125 million were genuine CROSS pens.

The pens that were supplied by Aristoc Booklex were handed out as souvenirs to guests at the annual Joseph Mubiru Memorial Lecture and those who attended the golden jubilee celebrations.

One of the pens was laid before the committee and the AG is expected to use it as a specimen to verify whether the pens were worth the Shs125 million that was spent on them.

“Are there genuine cross pens and they are not counterfeit cross pens. Before delivery or after delivery, did you examine whether they are genuine CROSS pens,” Mr Katuntu asked.

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