The Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka has expressed concern about the rampant variations and amendments of government contracts by different entities.
Kiwanuka’s concern is raised in a letter addressed to all accounting officers dated August 17 2021. According to Kiwanuka, the amendment in contracts is due to incompetence and collusion with service providers.
“We have noted with concerns the frequency with which variations, change orders, addenda, etc. to Government contracts are issued by procuring and disposing of entities and brought to this office for approval. We have, in some cases seen a contract amended more than six times and the contract price increased by more than 110 percent,” reads part of the letter.
The letter is copied to the Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija, Deputy Attorney General Jackson Kafuuzi, Solicitor General and the Executive Director Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority.
Kiryowa says that after carefully observing the trend, his office has concluded that the practice is a manifestation of the systematic problem, being either poor or incompetent planning, manipulation or abuse of the procurement law and process by individuals within public entities, in collusion with service providers.
He says that the practice has serious consequences for the integrity of the government process, the cost of implementing government projects and the economy at large.
“Needless the say, the practice undermines the principle of economy, efficiency and value for money enshrine in section 48 of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act, 2003 (as amended),” Kiryowa further notes.
The Attorney General also says that the practice betrays a propensity by accounting officers to commit the government outside the approved budget, hence a violation of the letter and spirit of section 15 (3) of the Public Finance Management Act, 2015.
Kiwanuka says that once a government procurement contract has been reviewed and approved by his office, and subsequently executed by a procuring and disposing entity, it should not be subject to variations, change orders, amendments unless in exceptional and justifiable circumstances.
According to Kiwanuka, procuring and disposing of entities must ensure proper planning and accurate determination of the scope and details of works, supplies and services to be procured before contract execution.