The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Co-operatives, Geraldine Ssali, has denied reports that the ministry spent Shs 400m in moving documents from the ministry’s office in Kampala to its stores in Entebbe.
Ssali said in a statement that the document transfer cost the ministry shillings 59.3 million, which included disassembling of office furniture, packaging materials, hiring of closed-body cargo trucks, loading, wages for casual labourers and fuel.
“The Ministry notes with concern the exaggerated figure of Shs400m, that was said to have been used to transport documents from Farmers House on Parliamentary Avenue to Entebbe,” she said.
She also noted that 38 laptops were distributed to staff during renovations and were picked up from the ministry offices.
“The affected staff individually picked the laptops from Farmers House at the ministry offices and not delivered them to individual homes,” she
Ssali’s comments come after legislators sitting on the parliamentary committee on trade, tourism and industry expressed shock at the Sh400m cost and suggested that it was too high.
Officials from the Ministry of Trade on Monday left members of the Parliamentary Committee on Trade, Tourism and Industry stunned after revealing that a staggering Shs400m was spent on moving documents from the Ministry’s office in Kampala to stores in Entebbe, just 50km away.
While the officials claimed they did not know how the transport fee became so high, they suggested that Permanent Secretary Geraldine Ssali might be able to explain.
However, Ssali did not attend the committee sitting, stating that she had already provided the necessary information.
The committee also heard that the Ministry used Shs26m to deliver Shs160m worth of laptop computers to employees during the renovation of Ministry headquarters.
Witnesses, including Principal Assistant Secretary Everest Ahimbisibwe and the former head of procurement, accused Ssali of cancelling the procurement process for five new Ministry vehicles and fraudulently finding a new supplier.
The five vehicles that Ssali procured were described as old and at a rate of Shs600m each, rather than their approved rate of Shs500m.
The signing of the documents was allegedly delegated to an office attendant after the head of procurement refused to sign them.
The committee’s findings also suggested that the Ministry diverted Shs5 billion from funds meant for relocation to renovating the existing structure, contrary to the originally planned Shs3.1 billion.
Committee members were concerned by the lack of information provided by the Ministry engineer and lawyer while defending Ssali’s decisions.