A shocking revelation, that seems to exhibit some signs of yet another scandal in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) of the Ugandan government, has been made. This after MPs discovered that up to Shs9.6bn was spent by the OPM on a project to train Ugandan youth on how to drink coffee, among other coffee economy activities.
The money was meant for both the training and purchase of machines. MPs are now seeking answers from officials in the OPM on how the nearly Shs10bn was used. In his report, the Auditor General revealed that he found no coffee machines in at least three cities as those charged with the coffee popularization project had claimed.
The cities in which the Auditor General discovered ‘ghost’ coffee shops and machines – where there were no machines bought or shops established as alleged – were Mbale, Lira, and Gulu.
Robert Limlim, the Director of the Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (DRDIP) at the OPM, has defended the project saying that it was important to train the youth on how to drink coffee, reasoning that this would help them become part of the coffee economy.
He also insisted that the coffee machines had been bought with the money in question even when the Auditor General’s report said otherwise.
“The young people in Uganda need to participate in the coffee economy and one of the ways the young people told us, especially those in the city, [was that] they would like to sell coffee and other merchandise but the coffee had to be one of the items we promote. So, we needed to have partners that are able and working in the coffee industry to do this,” explained Limlim.
Available information indicates that the government awarded the contract to train Ugandan youths on how to drink coffee to Inspire Africa (U) Limited.
The Shs9.6bn contract included Shs3.831bn for training farmers on the production of good quality coffee; and Shs1.906bn for training youths on how to drink coffee.
Up to Shs2.652bn was meant for training youth in financial literacy and business management skills while the cost of administration for this project was Shs1.271bn.
It should be remembered that the OPM has been in the news for months after top government officials – including the Vice President, Prime Minister, and Speaker of Parliament – were named in an iron sheets (mabaati) theft scandal. The Director on Public Prosecutions recently
CLEARED THESE BIG FISH , saying that there wasn’t enough evidence against them and that their personal assistants had misled them.
Before the OPM mabaati scandal dust could settle, it emerged that the Trade Ministry had reportedly used Shs400m to transport documents from Kampala to Entebbe. This scandal was already threatening to turn bloody after a senior official nearly killed a colleague for trying to block his multi-billion deal.