Ugandan officials arrested for inflating relief food prices

Thursday April 9 2020

Ugandan Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda

Ugandan Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda flags off a relief food distribution programme to vulnerable individuals affected by lockdown measures on April 4,2020 in Kampala.  PHOTO |OPM 

JONATHAN KAMOGA
By JONATHAN KAMOGA
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Four officials in the office of Uganda’s Prime Minister have been arrested over claims of irregular purchase of relief food the government is providing to vulnerable citizens during the coronavirus lockdown period.

Lt Edith Nakalema, the head of Statehouse Anti-corruption unit on Thursday said the four accounting officers had been arrested following a presidential directive to investigate procurement irregularities in the premier’s office.

“Preliminary findings established that the accounting officers were inflating prices and rejecting lower prices from suppliers of maize flour, maize and beans,” Lt Nakalema said in a statement.

Some of the bidders, who were reportedly rejected include the Operation Wealth Creation, a government programme set up to increase household incomes through agriculture.

These, Lt Nakalema said, are credible entities to supply food to government.

“We have clear evidence of well-known able and credible suppliers who offered lower prices and the accounting officers rejected them and instead took on the ones offering higher prices whose capacity we are even doubting,” she added.

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Uganda rolled out countrywide distribution of foodstuffs including maize flour and beans to its populace— a majority in the informal sector—after announcing a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

As at Thursday, the country had reported 53 Covid-19 cases.

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