The Minister of State for Finance, Planning and Economic Development (Planning), Hon. Amos Lugoloobi has said that the ministry did not play a part in pricing the Shs732,000 new digitised number plates.
Lugoloobi also revealed that the ministry did not conduct due diligence on Global Security, the company to undertake the contested exercise.
Speaking to MPs on the Committee on Physical Infrastructure on Tuesday, 15 August 2023, Lugoloobi said because the contract had a security element, it was a classified procurement.
“Finance was not part of the team that did due diligence as this is a security matter and as a ministry, we rely on the technical expertise of the Office of the President,” he said.
Committee Chairperson, Hon. Dan Atwijukire put him to task on who specifically determined the charges to be borne by motorists.
“Who developed the financial model? Who arrived at the figures?” he said.
“It was developed by Global Security and it was reviewed by a technical team including the Ministry of Finance,” said Paul Mwanja, a Commissioner in the Ministry of Finance.
To Hon Atwijukire, this was a contradiction.
“…contrary to what the Ministry of Security told us…that they developed the [financing] model with you [Ministry of Finance]; he told us that you developed this model,” he said launching the Finance Ministry into episodes of denials and contradictions, ultimately asking the committee for more time to consult and harmonise.
Atwijukire said sidestepping due diligence on the company is in violation of Sections 5 and 7 of the Public Private Partnership Act 2015 which establishes the Public Private Partnership Committee whose role, among others, includes to, ‘examine and approve feasibility studies’ in projects in which the government has interest.
The membership of the committee includes the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, who also doubles as the Secretary to Treasury.
MP Fred Kayondo (DP, Mukono County South) criticised the officials for contradicting each other, blaming them for what he termed as an over-priced contract.
“[Ministry of] Security was here and was pinning the Ministry of Finance for having developed the financing model. The Ministry of Finance is pinning the company for having done the financing model; whichever it is, a normal procurement or classified, there is no procurement which eliminates due diligence,” he said.
Kampala City Traders’ Association (KACITA) petitioned Parliament over the plans to introduce digital vehicle registration, which they argued will drive many into unemployment, and that it is exorbitantly priced.
Lugoloobi, however, said he is in no position to speak to the security aspects of the project but defended the price, saying the cost for securing the country will have to be met anyway.
“…you will note that all the issues raised by KACITA fall within the responsibilities of the Minister of Works and Transport, and the Minister of Security who appeared before this committee,” he said.
He added that, ’you have seen how boda bodas (commuter motorcycles) have been used to cause insecurity in this country. The Government of Uganda will not afford to provide the Shs732,000; that cost will be shifted to the person who is on the road, otherwise you don’t get on the road because you can be a source of insecurity on the road’.