Babalanda apologises over rot at UPPC

Minister for Presidency Milly Babalanda appears before the Committee on Cosase on March 28, 2023. PHOTO | DAVID LUBOWA  

What you need to know:

  • At the heart of the probe also is Shs15.4 billion that UPPC earned for offering services to the Electoral Commission during the 2021 General Election.

The Minister for Presidency, Ms Milly Babalanda, yesterday heeded summons by Parliament and offered an in-depth response to queries in regard to the mismanagement at the Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation (UPPC).
Whereas the minister apologised for the irregularities unearthed by the Auditor General, she insisted the steps were necessary to reform the UPPC.
“I thank the office of the Auditor General for the audit carried out and for highlighting areas where we need to improve and indeed areas we excelled in despite the challenges,” Ms Babalanda said.
“I apologise for any short comings. All our focus is aimed at making UPPC a corruption-free entity and the best printing company in the region. It may take some time but we are building a firm foundation,” she added.

READ: Printing Corporation’s profit declines by Shs2.2 billion
Ms Babalanda was appearing before legislators on the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (Cosase) who are reacting to the Auditor General’s Report for Financial Year 2021/2022 in regard to the irregularities at UPPC.
The Cosase team led by Nakawa West lawmaker Joel Ssenyonyi is looking into the circumstances under which staff and UPPC board were interdicted, how interim leadership was instituted and why the entity has to date failed to recover Shs4.3b from various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA).
The MPs yesterday quizzed Ms Babalanda why she undertook management duties such as appointing staff that would otherwise be undertaken by the UPPC board.

READ: Industry players opposed to Museveni directive on govt printing services
“How did the minister appoint herself to perform the functions of the board, (because) we know under the law, she as the supervisor of the same board. So if you are doing roles that you supervise, I want to know then, who was supervising her?” Mr Richard Gafabusa (Buwamba County) wondered.
In response, Ms Babalanda said: “We are managing a crisis at UPPC as a result of many senior managers being implicated in the ongoing corruption investigations and others already charged in the Anti-Corruption Court.”
 “This was not my idea but older plans of the corporation; after analysing their staff recruitment proposal, I okayed it but I reminded them in writing to follow the recruitment procedures. I may have made some short comings in them process but it was to address the crisis,” she  added.
Legislators were, however, informed that process to institute a new UPPC board has been appointed. 
At the heart of the probe also is Shs15.4 billion that UPPC earned for offering services to the Electoral Commission during the 2021 General Election.

However, the money was reportedly mismanaged, occasioning an investigation by Police, which led to the interdiction of staff at UPPC and the board.
On the contrary, Ms Babalanda explained that the work for which UPPC staff were being grilled was never solicited by UPPC management.
 “This work is done by the UPPC. The jobs were not solicited by the UPPC Management. If the elections were held a year earlier or later than 2021, this income would still have accrued to the UPPC,” she said.
The minister is expected to return today to the committee today.
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