Army officers bought a saucepan for almost Shs2 million and spent close to Shs8 million on a gas cooker in transactions which have astonished a Parliament committee probing suspected corruption in the military.
The Public Accounts Committee yesterday refused to accept explanations from Defence ministry officials over the purchases which are captured in an Auditor General report under consideration in the House. Army officers bought a saucepan for almost Shs2 million and spent close to Shs8 million on a gas cooker in transactions which have astonished a House committee probing suspected corruption in the military.
The Public Accounts Committee yesterday refused to accept explanations from Defence ministry officials over the purchases which are captured in an Auditor General report currently under consideration in Parliament.
The report says officers bought a saucepan for Shs1.8 million yet at market price, the ministry would have paid about Shs150,000 for the same item, according to MPs.
Similarly, a gas cooker whose cost was estimated at about Shs1m was bought at Shs7.7million.
The Auditor General called these “abnormal prices” for the items which were reportedly supplied by M/s Jimmex Ltd, a private company, in the financial year 2010/11.
Ms Edith Buturo, the stand-in accounting officer at Defence, attributed the prices to a “war situation”.
But PAC rejected her explanation and demanded she provides a list of officers involved in the transaction.
Defence officials were appearing before the committee for a second day running to answer audit queries for the years 2010/11 and 2011/12.
Also questioned were various ‘land bonanza’ deals where taxpayers could have lost billions of shillings.
In one case, the committee heard that unnamed Defence officials allegedly connived with Jinja District authorities and allocated public land along Kyesimira Road in Nalufenya Parish. The UPDF has been deployed on the land for 30 years.
It is not clear how the UPDF detachment was evicted from the strategic location that is critical to ensuring security of the Nile Bridge. Ms Buturo said the land was allocated without consulting the army. “This allocation was strongly contested and we have documentary evidence. As sitting tenants we should have been given the first priority but this was not done,” she said. However, she said UPDF did not have any legal claim because they lacked a title deed.
The ministry’s acquisition of land and buildings from Lugazi University for Shs13.5billion is also under the spotlight. The facility has since been turned it into a fledgling Military Engineering College.
Kibuku MP Saleh Kamba said the initial cost was less than Shs10b and it’s not clear how the figure jumped to Shs13.5b.