The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has come under intense scrutiny from the lawmakers on the Parliament’s Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (COSASE) for its failure to utilise Shs60 billion as planned.
The demand for answers arose during the ongoing probe into the irregularities highlighted in the Auditor General’s Report for 2021/2022.
During the committee sitting on Thursday, 13 July 2023, the committee members pressed URA officers for specific explanations regarding the unutilised funds, which had been allocated in the budget.
During the inquiry, the Kasese Municipality MP, Hon. Ferigo Kambale, tasked the Commissioner General of URA, John Musinguzi, on the circumstances surrounding URA’s failure to utilise the funds, despite having a procurement plan in place prior to the budget approval.
“If the procurement plan was approved, which should have been used for these procurements, how is it possible that over Shs65 billion was left unutilised?” he questioned.
In response, Musinguzi attributed the matter to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had disrupted their procurement plans. He explained that the majority of the items on the procurement list were intended for the IT department, but due to pandemic-related delays and supply chain disruptions, the necessary materials, particularly microchips, could not be acquired.
Musinguzi further emphasised the challenges faced in purchasing vehicles due to the pandemic’s impact.
“We faced delays related to COVID-19 and supply chain disruptions, especially concerning micro-chips. Buying vehicles in large quantities has also been hindered due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic. Additionally, there were internal challenges, particularly in our IT systems,” Musinguzi stated.
Kyadondo County East MP, Hon. Muwada Nkunyingi, noted that there is need to investigate URAs delayed initiation of procurement that led to failure to absorb the funds.
Diana Kisaka, URA’s Assistant Commissioner for Finance reported that there is a list of items that took longer than was unexpected and they were not able to absorb the funds.
“Indeed in some rear cases, the procurement did not start in time, but those are really rear, mostly because the process took really longer.
The committee tasked URA officials to return with a list of tax-exempted companies at the next meeting.
A day earlier on Wednesday, 12 July 2023, Musinguzi and his team were kicked out of a meeting with the committee for allegedly being ill-prepared in their responses over different pieces of land the tax body had procured.