Investigations by the Inspectorate of Government(IGG) have discovered that 15 staff of the Ministry of Agriculture misappropriated Shs 8.7 billion during the Covid-19 period.
Other government employees facing similar charges are from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics.
It is alleged that Ministry officials released the money to run activities at the Bukalasa Agriculture College and the Fisheries Training Institute but at the time all learning institutions were closed because of the lockdown, while at UBOS, officials requested and received money for field work, while the country was under the lockdown.
Addressing the media on Friday in Kampala, IGG, Beti Kamya, said in October, 2021 they received an allegation from a whistle blower to the effect that a total of shs 9 billion was mismanaged by officials from these ministries.
“The Inspectorate of Government also received another complaint from a whistleblower alleging that in the F/Y 2021/2022, staff of the finance department at UBOS illicitly amassed wealth by taking advantage of the Covid-19 lock down,” she said.
She explained that they later launched investigations into the matter, and 45 people were held responsible for the misappropriation of the funds.
“The IG investigated the above allegations and established that during the financial year 2020/2021, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries transferred funds totalling Shs 10,214,168,464 to Fisheries Training Institute and Bukalasa Agriculture College (BAC) at different times. Out of the Shs 10,214,168,464 disbursed to the two institutions, Shs 8,722,130,799 was misappropriated as it was spent on non-existent activities at the schools,” she said.
Kamya said they agreed that the funds would be refunded over a two-year period, with each member making an initial deposit of 5% within 30 days.
“The terms of the agreement that were reduced in writing and signed by the parties include among others; Payment of all the money misappropriated within 28 months from the date of signing the agreement. Suspects to deposit securities with the IG until payment in full,” she said.
Kamya stated that the recovery of the funds in issue does not waive her power to recommend further administrative actions such as warning, dismissal, demotion or retirement in public interest against the culpable persons.
In the case of UBOS, Kamya said that Shs 1 billion were requisitioned and paid to staff for field work activities purportedly conducted during Covid-19, yet only 33.1 million shillings was correctly spent on planned field activities.