That since its invasion about two and a half years ago, the Covid-19 pandemic claimed many lives and, in the same measures, financially worked as a turning point to most government officials, is a story only the newborns are unaware of… That statutory audit institutions have done more harm than good via muddling the facts about what was swindled, when, by who and how, is as clear as sunlight.
Nevertheless, for the last seven months or so, this website embarked on investigating and have the Covid-19 malpractices` culprits named and shamed. Most of them are immune to the former though. They are beyond being ashamed, they represent shame itself. Whereas our findings point at staggering figures in Trillions, we have resolved to report one case at ago, leaving those interested to compile the same by themselves for the record.
On the advent of the pandemic in March 2020, many UN funded organizations directed their attention to Uganda. It did not take long for the world to come up with a vaccine to curb the situation. And its in this line that the UN, through World Health Organization (WHO), released the initial UGX52Bn. This money was meant to support Districts in rolling out the vaccine campaigns, among them, distribution of `cold chain`. Cold chain is a term for distribution of fridges meant to keep the vaccines temperatures. This particular equipment is called Fridge-tag 2 Monitor.
Internet describes the Fridge-tag 2 as the intelligent temperature monitor for the continuous screening of sensitive vaccines and pharmaceuticals stored in medical refrigerators and or freezers. They measure the ambient temperature every minute and immediately issue an alert when the alarm limit is exceeded. The large OK-ALARM indicator on the display enables immediate decisions to be made. Accurate temperature data from the last 60 days is presented in a PDF, which is automatically generated when the device is connected to a PC/Mac, without additional software.
The description above is enough to understand the importance of these gadgets and their distribution down to the last recipient at the village level. But alas! We are sad to report that as we file this piece, the UGX52Bn is still intact. Intact not because the masses never wanted the services it was sent for. It is intact because since its arrival, top officials in Kampala are still struggling to find a way of `accounting for it` without using it for its purpose!
For starters, these dimes, like most of such, were supposed to be subjected to Public Finance Guidelines under IFMS system. This is Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS). This system was motivated by the Government’s craving to improve efficiency in budget preparation, execution and financial reporting. Available records indicate that since 2003, the IFMS has been extended across all ministries and the Central Government agencies (including Districts and Sub Counties).
From WHO, this money came direct to the Ministry of Health which is in order. From here, the Ministry would channel it to National Medical Stores (NMS). Then NMS would notify Ministry of Finance which, in turn would requisition Parliament for appropriation of it and approval of its usage, via a supplementary budget. But for obvious reasons, this was not the case.
Upon receiving the dimes, Ministry of Health considered it for Financial Year 2020/21 and instead, sent it directly to the districts without approval of Parliament by way of supplementary budget. Many, especially those green about mafia ways, would wonder how, this is a problem! Ministry Officials knew very well that Districts couldn’t use this money the way it was channeled. What they were doing is buying time as they planned on how to recall it, pocket it and have the districts account for the loot instead.
The Unsung Heroes in District Officials
The Kampala mafias at the Ministry of Health struggled to swindle the dimes but in vain. Knowledgeable District Officials led by Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) jammed to touch the money. “They tried their best but we are aware of the IFMS system. However much, whichever way they wanted to evade it, the same would bounce back at us. I don’t know about others but for us, we refused,” A CAO called for purposes of filing this report offered, on anonymous condition.
Trials upon trials failed and before they knew, stubborn District Officials had rendered their mission impossible and, the Financial Year elapsed with the dimes intact! As the norm, the unused funds are always rechanneled back to Bank of Uganda. And the UGX52Bn wasn’t exceptional. It was returned to the Central Bank. And, as one would think it had escaped the mafia, it was instead a tactical withdrawal for them. Plans were made to have the dimes this time channeled properly via IFMS and, it was now aligned for the Financial Year 2021/22!
Whereas this was achieved, the primary purpose for the monies was dying out. As it is public knowledge, the pandemic has long packed its belongings to wherever it came from. And hence, the uptake on vaccination is turning low by day. Moreso, the patriotic Health Workers down at Local Governments jammed to distribute the obviously expired vaccines. Expired because, as they concentrated on how to swindle the dimes, the mafias entirely forgot to maintain the vaccines refrigerated to the required temperatures.
“Fridges had not been given enough gas to keep the vaccines. By the time they wanted us to distribute them, some of the Fridge-tag monitors were reading as high as 27 degrees centigrade! All of them are useless and unlike them (the mafia), we live in communities whose members we can`t poison because some people in Kampala want to steal money,” our selfless sources from another District offers.
Again, one would think that with the refusal of Health Workers to `use` the money by `distributing` the expired vaccines, the mafia had hit a dead end. Just hold your conclusions right there. Now the Ministry want Districts to divert the dimes, consider and budget it for routine vaccinations, and `account` for the same as having been used for Covid-19. Then they are required to return the huge kickbacks without necessarily using the money. Did we call Local Governments` officials the `unsung heroes`? Yes, we did. For even this latest plan by the mafias, most of these officials have jammed to kowtow.
Squeezed to the wall, some District officials instead whistleblew the matter into the ear of the son of Kaguta, President Yoweri Museveni. The Court of the Last Resort however picked that the dimes had already been stolen. He immediately ordered the Health Monitoring Unit to investigate the matter. But to the knowledgeable, the rebel in Museveni never trusts his eggs with one basket. He again unleashed a parallel investigations team and the two squads are down at work on the same project but with no knowledge of each other.
Lest we forget
Reading all the above, its sad to note that money came from the UN to benefit vulnerable Ugandans from the jaws of Covid-19 monster, but the same was not put to use. One would be pardoned to believe that most lives were lost because of such selfish malpractices. It’s also important to ask the whereabouts of the money meant for the gas to keep the vaccines alive.
“The investigators should be encouraged to take meter readings for the Fridge-tag monitors for a period between 60 to 90 days for them to confirm that many Health Centers had ovens in place of coolers,” said our source lightly. Whereas we are aware that some Districts fell victims of the mafia`s demands, the investigators ought to review the authenticity of accountabilities by these districts. In the meantime, we are also aware of the dire demand by the UN, for the full accountability of the UGX52Bn. Watch this space…
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