The Inspector General of Government (IGG) has launched an investigation to ascertain the circumstances under which the Uganda Electricity Transmission Co Ltd (UETCL) injected more than Shs1b to hire 37 new staff.
On Monday evening, a source at the inspectorate, who asked not to be named since he is not allowed to speak for the body, said a team had been instituted and commissioned to investigate the matter.
“We also use such media revelations as open whistles blown and a team has been set up to scrutinise UETCL,” the source said in a telephone interview.
“The motive of spending that huge amount of money to hire a few people is questionable, even if that company has a fully-fledged human resources department that we are informed is capable of handling the assignment,” the source added.
On Monday, Monitor uncovered how the taxpayer-funded bulk power transmitter had gone ahead to spend Shs1b to hire 37 new staff, implying that each recruitment contracted out to Klynveld Peat Marwick Geordeler (KPMG), which describes itself as a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services, will roughly cost Shs27m.
Energy minister Ruth Nankabirwa (2nd right) and members of the UETCL Board at Olwiyo Sub-station in Nwoya District on March 23, 2023.
The investigations revealed that the public entity signed the contract with KPMG on June 15, 2023, and the former committed to pay the latter on average Shs27m per new staff hire during the exercise to last 12 weeks.
The contract, which was signed by then UETCL’s acting company secretary Martin Erone, and Ms Judith Erone, KPMG’s authorised representative, stated that UETCL will pay the consultant Shs1,046,495,000, inclusive of VAT 18 percent.
A breakdown of the contract’s lumpsum price indicated that overall, one KPMG official would pocket Shs6.66m per day for 33.6 days, translating to Shs210.5m.
Another official would pocket Shs3.7m per day, translating to Shs254.2m for the 68.7 days he would participate in the recruitment exercise. The financial management expert would pocket Shs2.22m per day, totalling Shs59.5m for 26.8 days.
The electrical engineering expert would walk away with Shs48.8m for 22 days.
He would earn Shs2.22m per day, and the pool of support staff would take Shs1.85m a day, totalling to Shs248.4m for the 134.26 days they are engaged in the exercise.
Meanwhile, officials would take a total of Shs821.4m, the budget in VAT-inclusive (18 percent), amounting to Shs147.9m, and an additional Shs77.2m in miscellaneous expenses.
Under the contract’s miscellaneous budget, KPMG planned to spend Shs3.7m on stationery, printing and administration, Shs36.9 million on psychometric assessment of an estimated 111 candidates at Shs333,000 each, and Shs1.29m on technology and communication costs.
It also planned Shs370,000 on local transport, advertisement at Shs16.6m and another Shs18.3m for an interview venue for 11 days at Shs1.7m per day.
Before signing the contract, KPMG also explained that the rate offered to UETCL was already discounted.
It also gave examples of recent similar assignments at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, and Uganda Energy Credit Capitalisation Company (UECCC) where the average rates were $8,000 (Shs29m) per position, exclusive of taxes and disbursements.
ALSO READ: Why Uganda’s grid remains powerless
During the investigations, Mr Joshua Karamagi, the UETCL managing director, said the decision to work with KPMG was due to the incapacity of its human resource department to conduct the exercise.
“Why KPMG, we have gaps in our human resource department (and at the moment), there is no substantive human resource manager. To recruit 37 positions, the total estimated time by the professional [KPMG] firm is three months and a dedicated UETCL could take up to six months yet most positions have been vacant for a year,” he said.
Joshua Karamagi, the UETCL managing director.
On the exorbitant costs, Mr Karamagi said: “They (KPMG) have just successfully recruited about 45 for the scale access project in the Ministry of Energy at a higher unit cost than what we gave them. All positions are open to our internal staff.”
In a telephone interview, Ms Patricia Achan Okiria, the deputy IGG, confirmed that an investigation has been sanctioned, but declined to give details, saying it would jeopardise the exercise.
“We have kicked off an investigation on that and I don’t want to talk about it, I would love to talk to you about the matter once the information is ripe,” Mr Achan said on Tuesday evening.
On Tuesday, the Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, quizzed UETCL management over allegations of mismanagement and the exorbitant recruitment programme.
Mr Emmanuel Otala, the committee chairperson, said: “Last Wednesday, we scheduled a meeting with the UETCL management and one of the agenda was the issue of the recruitment irregularity, but we postponed it to today (Tuesday) and we have been having a committee hearing on that matter.”
He said the committee received a petition from former workers of UETCL, through the Speaker of Parliament, claiming their contracts were erroneously terminated while alleging mismanagement by the company’s top management.
“We have heard from the management this afternoon and we are going to have a hearing from the petitioners on Tuesday next week. Once we engage them, we shall meet the company’s board of directors before making a conclusive report,” Mr Otala said.
The recruitment programme has sparked concerns about why the Uganda Electricity Transmission Co Ltd (UETCL) deliberately declined to engage its human resources department to conduct the exercise for which it would have accomplished the undertaking at less than a quarter of the budget it awarded KPMG.