The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament yesterday quizzed officials from the Office of the President about the whereabouts of two cars bought for the 2015 Papal Visit.
The officials led by Mr Willis Bashasha, the acting secretary in the Office of the President, had appeared before the committee to answer queries raised by the Auditor General in his 2015/2016 report.
The MPs were irked on learning that the two vehicles, a Kia Soul Hatchback and a Mitsubishi L200 pick up truck, which were bought at $35,940 (about Shs135m) and $50,631(about
Shs190m) respectively, had gone missing at the time of audit.
The Auditor General, Mr John Muwanga, noted in his report that whereas “Shs322.2 million was transferred to the ministry of Works for the procurement of Papal vehicles in November 2015, a review of the ministry assets register did not have the said cars, an indication that the Office of the President does not own the said vehicles”.
Mr Muwanga further stated that according to the memorandum, the Ministry of Works and Transport was required to furnish reports to the coordinating ministry (Office of the President) regarding the expenditures made out of the funds released for the procurement of the said vehicles.
The MPs flanked by Ntungamo Municipality MP Gerald Karuhanga, demanded explanations.
“By the time the auditors came to you, they did not see the cars anywhere, did you eat them?” asked Mr Karuhanga.
Mr Bashasha said whereas at the time of auditing there was no physical presence of the cars, the cars had been parked at the ministry of Works and not at the President’s office.
He said the cars are available and in good shape, forming part of the pool of vehicles currently used by the Office of the President.
With the Pope expected to pay another visit next year, the committee chairperson, Ms Angeline Osegge (FDC, Soroti) asked whether the tax payer will have to once again part with over Shs300 million for another car.
To this, Mr Bashasha said he “would not anticipate whether the Pope would still want to use the same old car.”