State House Officials Quizzed Over Museveni Swearing-in Vehicles

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In short
The Auditor General’s report for the year ending June 2012 notes that there was unfair treatment of bidders ahead of the Presidential swearing in Ceremony in May 2011 where one bidder was dropped for no particular reason.

The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday quizzed officials from State House for flouting public procurement guidelines when hiring vehicles for the 2011 presidential swearing-in ceremony.
 
The Auditor General’s report for the year ending June 2012 notes that there was unfair treatment of bidders ahead of the Presidential swearing in Ceremony in May 2011 where one bidder was dropped for no particular reason.
                                                         
This was despite the fact that other bidders such as Country Safaris were considered to have the same problem as Africa One Tours and Travel because they could not meet the specifications of the required manufacturers.
 
The report notes that the bidding process was restricted thus reducing the bidding period to five working days and the display period to only three days without the approval of Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act. State House then contracted more hire vehicles than was actually required from the contracting company which was not shortlisted by the contracts committee.
 
In their response, State House officials stated that they had been given a short period within which to prepare for the swearing-in ceremony yet they did not have a set date and there was no money for the function.
 
Maxwell Akora, the PAC lead counsel put it to the officials led by Haji Katende Yunus, the Undersecretary, that the swearing-in date should be known to them after every election. This means they should be prepared to ensure that the service is procured and delivered on time.
 
In defence Haji Katende acknowledged that one of the bidders in the tender for provision of hired vehicles that were used during the ceremony petitioned the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority. The Authority conducted investigations and recommended instituting of disciplinary action against members of the Contracts committee and the Procurement and Disposing Unit for the irregularities that were observed.
 
However, the accused parties submitted a defense and provided grounds to justify the awards. Haji Katende said he was convinced by the explanation and conveyed the same to the PPDA.
 
He also explained that the reason they followed their own procurement procedure is because Ministry of Finance had told them there was no money for the function just a few days to the swearing-in, which MP Akora questioned considering this was a Presidential swearing-in ceremony.
 
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The companies that benefited from the bidding included Tour Wonder Discovery which was given more vehicles than they bided for and Regional Travel Bureau which was not on the approved short list, but was awarded some tenders.
 
PAC members were also discouraged that the Auditor General’s report did not show how much was lost in the faulted Procurement procedure.
 
Geoffrey Sseremba, the Principal Assistant Secretary, revealed that the National Organising Committee budget was 3 billion shillings of which the transport sub-committee requirement was about 800 million shillings. The vehicle hire cost was about 400 million shillings which Sseremba said was all spent.
 
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Explaining why Africa One Tours and Travel lost out, Sseremba explained that the document issued out to bidders stipulated that there would be an inspection stage after evaluation and pre-qualification. An award was then issued to the companies and the technical inspection was conducted by officials from the Ministry of Works, who then made a report to the accounting officer in the Office of the President. It is at these stages that Africa One Tours and Travel lost out after the inspection report stated that only ten of their vehicles satisfied the requirements.

 

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