Global Money for Government Friends

In Nigeria there is a saying – “government money for government people.” The average citizen does not expect government officials, elected, appointed or hired, to use public money for public good, just to enrich themselves. Hence, one hears much grumbling but very little in the way of protest or advocacy for greater accountability in public expenditure.

The situation appears to be the same in Uganda, but instead this time it is global money for government people and their friends. International inquiries and complaints aside, it appears to be business as usual with Global Fund grants in Kampala.

Malaria World has brought our attention back to the continuing saga of Global Fund mismanagement in Uganda. The story stretches back to 2005 when grants were suspended for improper use of funds for ‘consultants’ and ineffective drugs, according to the Daily Monitor. On Monday the Daily Monitor reported that …

A new investigation into the management of Global Fund money has once again unearthed irregularities that have led to the loss of millions of shillings in money to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Daily Monitor has learnt. The latest revelation puts the future of Global Fund in a vulnerable position and increases the prospect of placing the $426 million funding burden on the government in case of another grants suspension. In a June 2009 audit report expected to be tabled in Parliament this week, the Auditor General, Mr John Muwanga, points the finger at the Ministry of Health and Finance for not paying serious attention to the alleged mismanagement even as the government officials deny any wrongdoing.

The Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development of the Government of Uganda is the current Principal Recipient of Round 7 Global Fund Malaria grant in Uganda – a grant that is essential for achieving universal coverage of LLINs. The grant started in August 2008, and $41million out of a projected $51million for Phase 1 has been disbursed. The initial assessment of this PR’s capacity was B2 – inadequate.

uganda-health-facility.jpgAs of the most recent progress report in November 2009, no progress had been registered for any of the grant’s key indicators. The report stresses that, “several conditions precedent have not yet been completed,” over a year into the grant.  “The Global Fund will not authorize the shipment of LLINs until the (procurement, supply) plans have been approved.”

The Global Fund malaria grant for Round 4 is supposed to provide ACTs – but its current rating is C – unacceptable.

This is the time we should be counting LLINs and ACTs being distributed and used to achieve universal coverage in Uganda, not counting “The amount (of misappropriate funds that) should be refunded to the Principal Recipient.”

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