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Public procurement- the most used channel for corruption in Uganda

Minister Ogwang during a monitoring visit in Kiryandongo district where he unearthed mismanagement of funds meant for construction of the Kiryandongo Administration Block

Corruption in Uganda is at an all-time high with the country loosing UGX10 trillion ($2.8 billion) to corruption in the year 2021 alone according to the Inspector of government (IGG) –Beti Kamaya. The state minister for Economic Monitoring, Hon. Peter Ogwang over the last few months, has uncovered corruption cases across the country, evidenced by countless cases of poor implementation of government projects intended to bring services closer to the people. These projects have been smeared with substandard, shoddy works.

During a monitoring visit to Buwenge hospital, Jinjadistrict, some of the residents reported that procurement officers connive with the contractors and inflate figures, which they in turn pocket. They also expressed their dissatisfaction with the construction works whose standards are way below the money allocated.

The minister’s countrywide visits have revealed that the procurement process at the district level is rotten. The SecretKnown is that public procurement and awarding of tenders are the most used channel for political corruption in Uganda.

In 1999, the Ugandan government orchestrated a procurement reform program which saw the creation of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act, 2003 (PPDAA) (Government, 2003), the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) as outcomes of the reform program. Even though the reforms were intended to craft efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery with a corruption-free procurement system, corruption in Uganda remains prevalent.

The objectives of the procurement reforms in local governments were:

  • To promote economy and efficiency in procurement and disposal
  • To ensure that public procurement is conducted in a fair transparent and non-discriminatory manner to obtain value for money
  • To contribute to the creation of a sound business climate in Uganda
  • To enhance the decentralization policy
  • To give entities the power to plan and execute their own programs.

          Findings from minister Ogwang’s country wide monitoring, however, leave many pondering whether the objectives of reforming the Public procurement and disposal of public assets act have at all been achieved with the prevalent ever increasing corruption rates in the country.

          The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act, 2003 (PPDAA) (Government, 2003), provides that the accounting officer at district level is the Chief Administrative officer (CAO) while at the municipal level is the town clerk. The role of councillors performs the following roles in the public procurement and disposal process;

          • Approval of short term and long term budgets and development plans as well as implementation work plans
          • Play a key role at strategic level of procurement and disposal planning
          • Set financial thresholds, here the council is able to influence procurement budgets
          • On a quarterly basis the standing committee on finance review all the minutes and awards of contracts committee to ensure care is exercised so as to safeguard the interest of the council.

                It is, however, disturbing that even though the Act has provisions that clearly state the roles of the technocrats, they have instead in turn conspired with the contractors to rob government and deny citizens their right to decent services.

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