The Auditor General, Mr John Muwanga, has revealed in his report for 2019/2020 Financial Year that the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) spent more than Shs600b on projects whose completeness could not be verified.
The Auditor General (AG) also revealed that another Shs289.1b was spent, without authority, on activities that had not been planned for.
In the report submitted to the Speaker of Parliament last week, which Daily Monitor has seen, Mr Muwanga said: “However, contracts and receivables ledgers were improperly maintained or not maintained for some of the road projects. I was unable to confirm the accuracy and completeness of the figures reported for the advances and recoveries therefrom.”
However, Unra has denied any wrongdoing or causing financial loss and insisted all the money disbursed by Ministry of Finance was accounted for.
Unra is a statutory government agency charged with construction and maintenance of national roads, bridges and ferries across the country.
Mr Allan Ssempebwa, the acting Unra spokesperson, told this newspaper that during the audit period, the executive director, Ms Allen Kagina, responded to the audit queries and explained how the decisions were reached by management and the expenditure of the funds.
He said none of the funds whose expenditure was queried by the Auditor General was stolen or abused.
“I am not privy to the contents of the [AG’s] report as yet but the accounting officer provided answers to the AG. It is not in our practice to actually cause financial loss but we are instead helping the government to save money by discharging our mandate,” Mr Ssempebwa said by telephone yesterday.
Asked about the diversion of funds, without permission, to projects or activities which were not planned for, Mr Ssempebwa said during a financial year, Unra usually encounters pressing needs which require urgent redress and management is compelled to use money from other projects.
After Defence and Security, the roads sector is the second highest funded in the national budget. UNRA was allocated Shs4 trillion in the 2019/20 financial year for road infrastructure.
The AG report noted that despite receiving Shs2.6 trillion of the approved total budget of Shs4 trillion, projects worth Shs398.2b were not implemented.
The unspent balances were returned to the Consolidated Fund in accordance with the Public Finance Management Act requirements.
The AG report also highlights the indebtedness in Unra which resulted in spending Shs472.8b on payment of domestic arrears.
The auditors were not given proof of the source of money spent on clearing the debts on supplies and services whose details are not in the report.
“There was also no evidence that supplementary funding was obtained to settle the outstanding domestic arrears,” Mr Muwanga noted in his report.
The report also puts Unra on the spot for not recovering Shs1.8b as liquidated damages from China Railway No3 Engineering Group for failure to complete the rehabilitation of Hima-Katunguru Road within the contract time.
The report indicates that the 60km road was supposed to be completed by September 22, 2019 but records in Unra showed it was completed two months late, which warranted recovery of liquidated damages from the contractor.
When asked why Unra gave wrong information to the auditors since works were still ongoing even this year yet their records indicated the road was completed on November 6, 2019, Mr Ssembebwa said: “It could have been an oversight because we produce monthly reports.”
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