Sunday July 27 2014

Govt should emulate Norway on funds use

I am writing in response to the article titled, “Norway uses money recovered from OPM to build classrooms in the the Daily Monitor of July 21. As a Ugandan, this article is upsetting leave alone falling short of depicting us as failures inconsiderate or outright maniacs. Imagine, the Norwegians being much smarter, they recover part of their monies, instead of taking it back to their consolidated fund- as we normally do when returning unspent monies from local government expenditures, they instead get a Norwegian humanitarian agency; not a Ugandan one ostensibly to avoid further risky exposure of their money since we are presumably of the same ilk, to construct 104 classrooms in northern Uganda at a cost of Shs7.8 billion implying that each class was constructed at Shs75million. Your guess is as good as mine; If this money was channeled through government structures, the total cost would have doubled for the same quality even in circumstances where corruption is minimised as a result of the government bureaucratic machinery with quality aspects and outright demonstration of incompetence notwithstanding. It is even more vexing that a humanitarian agency can use only Shs7 billion to accomplish such a big infrastructural project bearing in mind the taunt of inherent capacity challenges among similar agencies.
These kinds of examples are many, of the failed and deliberate frustration of government programmes despite the fact that we have the smartest brains in civil service and I am yet to be disapproved on this one since their personal asset portfolios far outstrip their incomes, but they seem to be clueless on what needs to be done or simply they do not have the guts to do right. For heaven’s sake does it need to take a civil society organisation to show us how things should be done?
I am certain that the Norwegians had an overarching role in the project especially based on their frugal accountability mechanism and we are certain that 99 per cent of the funds went into the project. If I was in government, it is more insulting that a donor gives you money and even goes ahead to spend it on your behalf as if you are clueless of the critical needs of your people ? I will equate this to someone who is hungry, is invited on the table with a very appetising dish; he begs to have his hands washed by the host and goes ahead to demand to be fed, worse still, he pukes on the host. If this was an experimental project, the writing is clearly on the wall and hope both the government and development partners are reading the script narrative. As long as government continues to display mediocrity, this precedence will repeat itself.
Charles Owuor,