Geraldine Ssali, the Permanent Secretary(PS) of the Ministry of Trade has failed to account for the supplementary budget of over Shs5 billion meant for rent for the ministry.
This happened while appearing before the Parliamentary Committee of Trade on Wednesday at the Parliament.
Legislators have accused the PS, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Geraldine Ssali of violating the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) by causing a virement of Shs5 billion which was meant for renting of office space.
The PS, together with the Ministers of State for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Hon. David Bahati and Hon. Frederick Ngobi appeared before the Committee on Trade to present the ministry’s policy statement for the 2023/2024 financial year on Wednesday, 12 April 2023.
Parliament approved Shs5 billion in the 2021/2022 supplementary budget for renting of office space.
However, the committee learnt that PS and the Secretary to the Treasury (PSST) approved a virement to renovate the ministry’s offices.
The Committee Chairperson, Hon. Mwine Mpaka said that the virement was 100 per cent and yet the PFMA provides for only 10 per cent.
Geraldine Ssali failed to convince and explain explicitly to the MPs why she didn’t rent new offices for the Ministry and yet the old ones at Farmers House were no longer sufficient and suitable for occupation and instead opted for renovating the same building.
In defending her action, Ssali said that after consultations with the Ministry of Works, Uganda Property Holding Limited, and a study of a survey on the buildings to be rented, she found out that it was too expensive to rent new premises for the Ministry compared to renovation.
She cited that renting new offices would cost the government at least 7bn shillings annually compared to the current Sh 300 Million paid every year on rent at the farmer’s house.
However, Ssali failed to provide evidence and minutes to the effect of the decision to halt the renting process to renovate yet the 5bn shillings were released.
Ssali was later ordered to return before the committee on a yet-to-be set date after giving contradicting information on the budget.