Kampala- The Auditor General (AG) has raised the red flag over dubious expenditure at the National Drugs Authority (NDA), demanding that the authority recovers all the money spent without proper accountability and work plan.
In a November 7, 2018 management letter, the AG pointed to low staffing levels, inadequate drug inspections and other anomalies, which he says point to the flaws in the management of the authority.
The AG questioned the Shs47m legal fee refunded to Ms Donna Kusemererwa, who was then executive secretary of NDA.
Ms Kusemererwa has since been removed from the position by court.
The case from which the costs arose, and which also led to her eventual removal from NDA, was filed by Ms Florence Nakachwa, who sued Ms Kusemererwa in her individual capacity, together with NDA.
Also queried is the Shs196.9m paid to district assistant drugs inspectors; and $42,691 (Shs158m) paid to Contec Airflow for replacement of items that were purportedly delivered but were found missing.
Others are Shs28.5m paid to Cooper Motors for servicing of vehicles, which the AG says had been catered for in the purchase contract, Shs117.6m for unplanned procurements, and Shs82m spent above the budgeted procurement.
The AG also faulted NDA for using direct procurement method amounting to Shs332m, saying that the accounting officer failed to prove that the said procurements were emergencies that could not be procured through competitive bidding.
In 2017, NDA entered into a contract with Enersol Pty Limited for the supply of Electronic Hole Male condoms at a cost of $80,795 (Shs300m). Because of the contractual amount, NDA sought clearance from the Solicitor General.
The Solicitor General advised the authority to include the powers of Attorney clearly stating the officer from Enersol who would be in charge of this particular procurement.
However, according to the AG, NDA ignored the advice, thereby exposing the agency to losses if the other party defaulted on the supplies.
During the same period under review, the NDA contracted Cooper Motors to supply 15 double-cabin pickup trucks at a tune of Shs2.2b, inclusive of taxes and servicing up 50,000km for every vehicle.
The servicing cost was to be included in the price of the vehicles and consequently the bidder quoted a fleet maintenance cost of Shs34.5m.
However, the audit report notes that contrary to the terms of the contract, NDA spent Shs28.5m on maintenance of the same vehicles during the period when they were supposed to be serviced by Cooper Motors at no extra costs. “...The accounting officer should engage Cooper Motors Corporation, the supplier for the refund of the money spent on servicing of the vehicles so far and engage coopers to carry out servicing of the vehicles up to 50,000km, as agreed in the contract,” the report recommended.
The entity was also faulted for procuring the services of non-pre-qualified service providers during the period under review. NDA procured the services of Kateera Kagumire and Advocates to defend it in the case between Roko Construction Limited Vs PPDA and NDA to the tune of Shs29.5m, yet the company was not on the prequalified list of suppliers of legal services.
Low staffing levels
The report also shows that while the authority is supposed to have a total of 312 staff at the head office, only 269 positions have been filled, leaving 43 positions vacant.
At the regional offices, the situation was not better. Each district is supposed to have one inspector, but the report found out that each inspector in the region was managing more than five districts.
The report by the AG also indicates that regional inspectors were impounding drugs from drug shops and pharmacies due to non-compliance with drug distribution regulations. However, the audit team noted that there were no documented guidelines on how the drug inspectors should handle impounded drugs.
Dr Medard Bitekyerezo, the NDA board chairperson, said NDA has responded to all the issues raised and implemented the recommendations.
On the money paid to Ms Kusemererwa, Dr Bitekyerezo said: “Please that woman has gone; let her rest. Who is paying you to do all this? The Auditor General raised queries and we recovered that money from her gratuity, and we have no issues with her. Ordinarily, when an officer gets issues while executing his or her duties, the authority is supposed to cater for the legal fees; that’s why we paid her legal costs, but when the auditor general raised issues with that, we recovered the money and we are now clean,” he said.
“We do not have any qualified audit report for your information and where there were issues raised, we responded and implemented the recommendations of the Auditor General,” he added.