Row erupts at UIA over jobs plan

Tuesday July 25 2017

 

By Yasiin Mugerwa & Ibrahim A Manzil

The Executive Director of Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) Ms Jolly Kamuhangire has been accused by a board member of hiring a private company at an astronomical cost to do work which already exists.
Prof George Piwang-Jalobo claims that the hired private company merely duplicated President Museveni’s job creation plan contained in his election manifesto for 2016-2021. He says Ms Kamuhangire contracted the company under pretence that UIA’s current job creation plan is defective.
Prof Piwang was the chief editor of the UIA 2016-2021 Strategic Plan.
In his 2016 job creation plan, Mr Museveni sought to create at least 1,000,000 jobs before the end of his tenure in 2021.
Prof Piwang says the President’s proposal on job creation was supposed to be incorporated in the existing UIA Strategic Plan but before that could be done, Ms Kamuhangire contracted Summit Consulting Limited at Shs100m to redraft the same Strategic Plan without authority of the board.
He alleges that Ms Kamuhangire signed the consultancy contract on June 2, yet there was already an existing Strategic Plan 2016-2021 awaiting President Museveni’s approval. Ms Kamuhangire assumed office on April 3.

Prof Piwang has petitioned the Internal Security Organisation and Parliament to investigate Ms Kamuhangire over the matter. The petition is also copied to UIA board Chairman Mr Emeley Kugonza.
“The UIA executive director single-handedly usurped the authority, role and responsibility of the UIA board when she decided to procure and signed the contract for a consultancy to develop a new UIA Strategic Plan without prior authorisation of the board. This is illegal,” Prof Piwang’s petition reads in part.

However, speaking to Daily Monitor at her office on Monday, Ms Kamuhangire dismissed Prof Piwang’s allegations as false but added that she would not give an elaborate response because the board had already formed a committee to investigate the claims.
“All these things are baseless and I am not ready to go into that. My point here would be; we wait for the committee to finish with their work and then we will know,” Ms Kamuhangire said.
On the award of the contract to Summit Consulting, Ms Kamuhangire said she merely signed it after all the processes had been concluded by the relevant authorities.

She said, however, owing to the controversy the contract was eventually terminated.
“…this letter [Prof Piwang’s petition] comes up, obviously it’s an indicator that someone is not in agreement with where we are going as an institution. The board sat; we said for the sake of peace for the time being let’s terminate the contract,” Ms Kamuhangire said.

The board chairman Mr Kugonza confirmed cancellation of the contract.
“We had at one point called the contractor and he gave us wrong information; the legal person from the Authority gave us a complete package of the contract. That made us not to believe the right thing was being done,” he said.

The petition which is now before Parliament’s Committee on Commissions Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) and ISO claims that in their draft Strategic Plan document, the consultants created “falsehoods” juxtaposed to quotes and pages lifted from the existing UIA Strategic Plan 2016-2021 in apparent duplication.
“Where did they get their draft Strategic Plan with organisational structure on payment of 40 per cent if they didn’t plagiarise it from UIA Organisational Structure to implement the strategy 2016/2021?” Mr Piwang states in the petition.

Amount to be paid
Under the controversial contract, the consultants were to be paid Shs40m on the draft Strategic Plan with, 20 per cent upon completion of the final Strategic Plan and 40 per cent upon completion of UIA branding and the land asset register.
However, sources said on June 17 some board members met and resolved to give retrospective approval of the contract.

Prof Piwang says he boycotted the June 17 meeting. He says the meeting was a scheme to manipulate UIA board to approve the illegalities in the contract.
The audit committee of the UIA board has been asked to investigate Ms Kamuhangire’s alleged misconduct and threat to sack four directors under the proposed staff structure. The committee is also investigating the allegation that Ms Kamuhangire intends to raise her salary.

Ms Kamuhangire declined to respond to this allegation.
“It’s an area that I wouldn’t want to tamper with because the committee has not started [investigations],” she said.
The audit committee is chaired by Mr Fred Opolot.
In the petition, Prof Piwang alleges that Ms Kamuhangire recruited a personal assistant at a salary which was not approved by the board. He further claims the board has since reduced the assistant’s salary to Shs3m and asked Ms Kamuhangire to refund the money she allegedly illegally paid to her for two months. On the recruitment of an executive assistant earning the salary of a director, Mr Kugonza said investigations will establish the truth.

“Somebody must be reprimanded for if it is found to be correct because there are established structures that are approved by the board. Anybody flouting regulations and that cannot be accepted,” he said.
Mr Kugonza said by close of this week, they will have all the details of what happened in the alleged illegalities. Under investigation also is the claim that Ms Kamuhangire has 10 police guards, moves with a lead truck vehicle and pays five of her escorts Shs12, 000 each day without approval of the board.

However Ms Kamuhangire and Mr Kugonza, said they are not the ones who determine payment for police guards. They said that’s done by the police leadership.
“We attempted to get that information and they responded that they don’t share the security assessment of individuals,” said Mr Kugonza.
The Director General of ISO Col Kaka Bagyenda on Monday said he had not received the petition.

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