Parliament has recommended the sacking of Geraldine Ssali, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives over allegations of inflating the price for the renovation works at the Ministry Head Quarters at Farmers House in Kampala.
The decision was part of the 16 recommendations contained in the report by Parliament’s Trade and Tourism Committee following a probe into the utilization of Shs5Bn that was meant for the acquisition of new office Space at Kingdom Hall Kampala, but the top officials at the Ministry instead opted to use the funds to carry out renovations, a decision that raised queries than the Ministry was able to provide, thus prompting prove into the expenditure.
Mwine Mpaka, Chairperson of Parliament’s Trade Committee while presenting the report faulted Ssali for failing to regulate and ensure proper utilization of funds which saw the cost of works inflated to the tune of Shs2Bn. The committee found Ssali personally liable for the dubious and mysterious inflation of the estimated contract price from Shs4.664Bn to Shs6.2Bn
In sealing Ssali’s fate, Mpaka called on the Secretary to Treasury, Ramathan Ggoogbi who is charged with supervising all Permanent Secretaries and accounting officers to relieve Ssali of her duties as Accounting Officer at the ministry or causing Government financial loss.
Parliament also recommended an investigation into the dealings of Grace Choda, former Acting Permanent Secretary Ministry of Trade by both the Inspectorate of Government and the DPP with a view to prosecution for initiating a request for a supplementary budget worth Shs8Bn for rent new office premises at Kingdom Kampala by MTIC; based on personal conviction and sentiments that Farmer’s House was dilapidated and unfit for occupancy.
Parliament also recommended that the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) conduct an investigation into the procurement process that resulted in the award of the renovation works at Farmer’s House to Sarick Construction Company Ltd. This was after it was revealed that despite receiving payment amounting to Shs4.8Bn for the works, the contractor Sarick Construction Company refused to remit 18% Value Added Tax to URA as required by the law, and the contractor also didn’t submit a performance guarantee as required per bid documents.
Parliament also recommended the prosecution of Daniel Kalule (Transport Officer, Ministry of Trade for facilitating the creation of ghost fuel cards, which resulted in the loss of government funds amounting to Shs362,316,812
Kalule had informed the Committee that the fuel had been utilized on seven fuel cards at Total Energies fuel stations by; Nelson Balyejusa (Senior Accountant), Everest Ahimbisibwe ( Senior Assistant Secretary, and Rosemary Asiimwe who all denied knowledge of consuming the fuel and Kalule failed to furnish the Committee with evidence of ever handing over the fuel cards to the trio.