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Two non-staff drivers given vehicles, draw salaries and allowances at Education ministry

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KAMPALA–At least two non-employed drivers at the Ministry of Education and Sports have government vehicles and draw salaries and various allowances, an internal audit report has revealed.

But Martin Muhanga, the senior internal auditor who exposed this and other fraudulent payments at the ministry, has since been forced out of office and has a case file against him at Police.

The audit that exposes the rot at the ministry faults senior officials, including the Permanent Secretary and the head of Human Resource, for connivance that has seen the former employees retained on payroll.

A May 18, 2018, internal memo by Martin Muhanga, a senior internal auditor, exposed how the government has been paying the said drivers salaries and allowances when actually they had ceased to be public employees.

The memo, under the subject “Payment of allowances and possession of government vehicles,” identifies the drivers in question as Badru Kayimba and Richard Ntungwa.

“It has been noted that, notwithstanding the communication in the letters to the officers and action taken on their salaries, Badru Kiyimba and Richard Ntungwa are in possession of government vehicles and continue to draw both lunch and other field allowances as if they are employees of the Government of Uganda,” reads part of the memo.

The internal auditor recommended that both drivers hand over the government properties in their possession.

He also recommended that all forms of allowances payments in respect to the drivers be stopped with immediate effect and that all funds that had been advanced to the two officers should be availed for review and retired if they comply with the guidelines.

Muhanga also recommended that all public funds that the two drivers have earned illegally should be recovered and called for an investigation to further ascertain how the two ended up on payroll without appointment letters.

‘I’m tired of these talks–PS’

Incidents of ‘ghost’ workers has always been rife in the public sector with the government losing billions of shillings annually to dead or retired civil servants.

In the education sector, it even encompasses learners where the government continues to pay billions of shillings in especially free primary education programme to non-existent pupils.

Crime24 reporter Jens Mukiibi says the latest incident at the Ministry of Education and Sports, therefore, comes as no surprise, not least the reaction of the officials that suggest knowledge of the fraud.

For instance, the ministry’s PS Alex Kakoza told this reporter that Crime24 should “go and ask the commissioner for Human Resource.” a

“I know these things are being circulated by Muhanga [internal auditor] and I am tired of them but you go and ask commissioner Human Resource because I am busy preparing for cabinet,” Kakooza said on phone.

Martin Muhanga was forced out of office on June 1, 2018, for questioning payout of unfinished World Bank-funded project.

His office was subsequently broken into by senior ministry officials under the supervision of area police boss a one Sempijja.

Ministry spokesman, Patrick Muhinda, when contacted said he was in a meeting.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Education and Sports contracted a UK firm, Mott Macdonald Ltd, to carry out consultancy services for the Education Sector ECD Policy Review under the UTSEP/GPE Project which was contracted and kicked of the work.

Shs5 billion of the US$100 million World Bank-funded project would go intio the review of early childhood policy.

The consultancy started its work and was to have a Technical Reference Committee in place to qualify payments to be made to the contractor.

In fact, as stipulated in an exclusive document seen by Crime24, TRC’s role was to review reports and documents from the consultancy firm before submission to the relevant working groups and authority.

However, a February 2018 meeting convened by junior Education minister Rosemary Seninde discovered that whereas the inception report had been done and fully in place, at least three sectors were fully paid up despite the contract manager’s reservations about their execution.

For instance, whereas milestones 2, 3 and 4 were said to have had issues and did not call for payment, a February 26, 2018 letter, a copy of which this news website has seen, authorized payment for the fourth installment.

The payment was authorised by Contract Manager, ECD Policy Review at the Ministry, Assistant Commissioner Ibrahim Bigabwa.

Interestingly, the requisition was penned and forwarded a day before the Seninde meeting held on February 27, 2018.

Why Muhanga was forced out of office

Insiders say senior auditor Muhanga was pushed out for questioning controversial payments.

Upon landing on the Milestone 4 requisition for payment, Muhanga twice wrote on March 16, 2018 and March 20, 2018 to the Assistant Commissioner Internal Audit and Contract Manager ECD Policy Review, respectively.

The letters questioned the inconsistencies in the payments and also offered guidance.

“Payments to the consultant continue to be processed through his office and yet the clear process of paying for consultant services is not being followed,” part of the letter to the Assistant Commissioner Internal Audit reads.

“I will review this payment and give it the assurance it deserves so that government gets value for money from the consultant.”

The auditor questioned how the commissioner came to authorise payments a day before the meeting with minister Seninde yet during the meeting he had indicated the projects paid up were ongoing.

“Refer to your report to the Minister of State for Primary Education where your highlighted the status of Milestone 4 as ongoing validation by the Technical Reference Committee and that was as at February 27, 2018, and yet you signed loose minute forwarding for payment on the February 26, 2018, a day earlier than your progressive report to the minister.

“This confirms that you actually forwarded documents for payment for unfinished product by Mott Macdonald because by this time according to your progressive report, the technical committee was still validating the consultant’s work. One wonders what you were paying for when you did not have a complete product from the Technical Reference Committee,” Muhanga wrote to Bigabwa.

This news website has since learnt that Bigabwa, on March 16, 2018, reported lost consultancy payments even upon receiving Muhanga’s scrutiny letter.

The commissioner claimed that his office was awaiting a review response when he learnt that money and paperwork had been picked from office without his knowledge.

Senior officials in the ministry broke into Muhanga’s office on Friday last week. His locks were changed while important documents were seized. Impeccable sources say he was tasked to either hand over office that Friday or on Monday morning.

Muhanga told Crime24 that he could not comment on the matter.

We have, however, learnt that the ministry has filed eight cases against Muhanga at the Criminal Investigations Directorate in Kibuli.

The cases include; abuse of office, embezzlement, neglect of duty, theft of documents, threatening violence, disobedience of lawful orders, fraudulent recruitment and promotion and causing financial loss.

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