Forensic audit into Karuma, Isimba dams construction starts

AUDIT | The long awaited forensic audit into the construction of Karuma and Isimba hydroelectric dams is set to start after several attempts failed due to absence of funds.

The revelation was made by James Bantu, director of forensic audit, while meeting with MPs on Finance Committee, who said that part of the funding for the audit had been secured but the audits were delayed by objections of the two contractors.

“The Karuma special audit, we have just gone through the soliciting of the firm signed the contract and the contract was approved by the Solicitor General just last week and we should be in the process of signing the contract. We are engaging an international firm to commence the audit,” Bantu said.

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President Museveni commissioned Isimba Hydro Power Project last week, adding another 183 megawatts of power onto the national grid.

Information from the Auditor General indicates that part of the money was provided by European Union and the total funding was Shs5 billion.

Of this, the audit of Karuma and Isimba will account for Shs2.42 billion and in the 2019/2020 National Budget, the Auditor General has received and indicative budget of Shs2.86 billion that will cater for second phase of the dams.

Following reports of cracks at the two dams, Auditor General John Muwanga requested for Shs6 billion that he would use to conduct a thorough audit into the financial and quality of works at the dams and for three financial years, the money wasn’t availed.

In 2016, reports of cracks developing at the 600MW Karuma and 183MW Isimba dams located along River Nile in the districts of Oyam and Kayunga.

Works on the two dams were spearheaded by Sinohydro Corporation Ltd and China Water & Electricity Corporation (CWE) of Karuma and Isimba dam respectively.

In their budget proposals, the Auditor General is grappling with audit backlog that would require Shs2.31 billion as well as Shs77.6 billion to undertake forensic investigations.

The audit team also told the committee that whereas the Public Finance Management Act requires the Auditor General to report to Parliament on December 31 every year, the alignment of their audit year and financial year outcomes has posed a challenge and the six month period following the end of the financial year exerts pressure to produce audits reports in a timely manner.

The AG also raised concerns about the expanding scope of audit coverage local governments and schools in addition to increasing demand for public works audit, specialized audits and forensic investigation has been difficult to cope with due to limited staff and budgetary allocations to execute requests and audit plans which has seen an accumulation of audit backlogs.

The Office of the Auditor General is also seeking for Shs1.043 billion to effectively build capacity and make a positive contribution to National priorities focused on areas considered as high impact such as public-private partnerships, oil and gas, international taxation, domestic revenue, IT systems audits, impact evaluation and illicit financial flows.

In the coming financial year, the Auditor General plans on conducting a number of financial audits; in 94 Ministries, Departments and Agencies, 113 Statutory Authorities, Local Authorities-2030, Projects-177, PSAs-4.

Additionally, ten Value for Money audits are planned as well as 10 specialized audits, 48 Forensic investigations and specialized audits, five IT audits bringing the total number of audits to 2491.

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