Big Story! Standards Council Summons UNBS Boss Over UGX20b Fraud

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The National Standards Council (NSC) has summoned Mr David Livingstone Ebiru, the Executive Director of Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) to explain the alleged misappropriation of government funds worth more than Shs12b as well as shielding staff who allegedly stole more than Shs9.2b.

According to a June 26 letter by Mr Charles Musekuura, the chairperson of NSC, the council which heads UNBS wants Mr Ebiru to explain how UGX 12.5bn was spent under PVoC, an export inspection and verification programme, contrary to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), 2015.

“That from July 2022 to May 2023, an amount totalling to approximately $4.9m was collected. Out of this, $1.5m was remitted to the Consolidated Fund, while $3.4m was converted into Uganda Shillings (about Shs12.5b) through the Gain Account at Standard Chartered Bank and spent at source, contrary to the requirements of the PFMA 2015,” the letter reads in part.

The letter also faults Mr Ebiru and UNBS for allegedly causing a loss of Shs330m to the Bureau, an amount that was withdrawn from the Collection Account at Stanbic Bank, which is only for security deposits of traders.

“That by letter dated March 30, 2022, the Accountant General authorised you to retain Account No. 9030005898675 but only for purposes of traders and businesses making security deposits to this account,” Mr Musekuura further states.

According to the council chairperson, “The Accountant General further stressed that ‘this authority is granted on condition that there is no cash withdrawal on the above account and any expenditure should only be a refund to the qualifying security depositors.’”

“Contrary to the Accountant General’s specific terms and conditions and the requirements of the Republic of Uganda Treasury Instructions 2017, as of April this year, an amount in excess of Shs30M had been withdrawn from the account and spent at source,” he added.

Shielding UNBS Officials

MR Ebiru is further accused of taking no action against five members of staff who reportedly caused financial loss to the Bureau, amounting to Shs9.282b after they reportedly backdated inspection dates on reports and edited application dates on the e-portal applications.

“An investigation was carried out and a report was handed over to you in June 2022 and since then, no action has been taken against the culprits. Surprisingly, two staff …have since left service of the Bureau while the rest are still in the Bureau’s employment, drawing salaries,” the letter adds.

“Mr Executive Director, as you can see, these allegations are extremely grave and must be replied to,” Mr Musekuura said in the letter.

“Under Section78 (1) PFMA, 2015, “where an institution which recedes public money does not meet the requirements of the Act, or contravenes the Act, Parliament may request the Minister responsible for the institution to make a report to Parliament with an explanation on the matter.’ Of course, the above provision assumes that the Council (NSC) will have briefed the Hon. Minister so that the Minister can make a competent explanation,” he adds.

Mr Musekuura said the acts have left NSC in “a rather embarrassing situation.”
“Personally, I am dismayed that you chose to conceal all the above-mentioned actions and the National Standards Council has been left in a rather embarrassing situation. Council has, under Section 8(b) of the UNBS Act, the responsibility for the general administration of the Bureau,” he said.

“It cannot effectively perform this role when this information has been deliberately concealed from it by Management. While I wait for your written reply, please give notice of a Council Meeting to all Members, for Wednesday, July 12, 2023, at 9 am to discuss this and other related matters,” he added.

Ebiru speaks out

When contacted for a comment on the allegations, Mr David Livingstone Ebiru, the Executive Director of Uganda National Bureau of Standards (Unbs), denied receiving the summons and said he is only reading about the reports in the media

“I have not seen the summons and I haven’t been given any fair hearing but the chairperson chooses to run to the media.” He added: “The content is not accurate, it’s in bad faith and instead it should have appreciated the executive director for keeping the Bureau afloat given the financial circumstances we are operating in.”

Mr Ebiru also explained that during the financial year 2021/2022, the Bureau remitted Shs60b to the Treasury and that in the recently ended financial year, they remitted Shs50.5b despite the government allocating them Shs44.5b down from the initial budget of Shs65b.

The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) is a statutory body under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Co-operatives established by the UNBS Act Cap 327 and became operational in 1989. It is governed by the National Standards Council and headed by the Executive Director who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of UNBS.

Story Credit: Daily Express

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