12 February 2013

Uganda: IGG Defends Karuma Probe

The Inspector General of Government (IGG) has defended her decision to investigate the alleged procurement mishap in the Karuma power project, saying the parliamentarian who petitioned against the investigation has no right to stop it (investigation).

Kabale MP Andrew Baryayanga, on January 31 wrote to Justice Irene Mulyagonja saying the inquiry is going to cause delay in the dam project and worsen the electricity shortage.

The MP had also said the procurement complaints were "instigated in bad faith by well-known influence peddlers in town."

But Mulyagonja has said if she halted the investigations, she would be abdicating her mandate.

"Whether or not we carry out an investigation cannot be determined by the influence of an individual who is not related to the complaint such as you (MP) regardless of your status in society," Mulyagonja said in a communiqué yesterday.

The $1.2bn (about sh3.1 trillion) Karuma dam project is almost two years behind schedule with the latest delay caused by bribery allegations.

The IGG's response comes a few weeks after a second evaluation team returned one bidder, China Water and Electric Corporation (CWE) - the firm that the first complainants (whistleblower and Salini) had sought to block from being considered in the Karuma procurement process.

The new evaluation team's report signed on January 16, 2013 had returned CWE with a score of 90.84%.

In her defense of the investigation, the IGG contends that the ministry did not honour the consent agreement with the whistle-blower that stated that opening of financial bids would not proceed until the application for administrative review is disposed of.

"Instead of dealing with them as had been agreed in the consent order endorsed by court on October 22 2012, the ministry decided to open CWE's financial bid. This was disobedience of a lawful court order and cannot be excused," said Mulyagonja.

Mulyagonja said opening of the financial bid was illegal and any process that would follow therefrom would be illegal and void.

She emphasised that the IGG's investigation is about the re-evaluation of the bids for the Karuma project and not the flawed evaluation of 2012.

"It is about the results of a process that was carried out between December 11, 2012 and January 16, 2013," said the IGG.

The IGG cited applications by the complainants who asked for a review of the judicial process and to quash the procurement process of CWE.

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