Members of Parliament sitting on the parliaments committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises [COSASE], have sent samples of Bank of Uganda pens for authentication.
The Golden Jubilee cross pens purchased by the central bank will be forwarded to Uganda National Bureau of Standards [UNBS] and the Auditor General for authentication, reports Uganda Radio Network.
This follows queries that the Central Bank flouted procurement laws when it spent Shs125m to purchase 350 pens in financial year 2016/2017.
The pens were supplied by Aristoc Booklex Limited as souvenirs for distribution to distinguished guests during the Central Bank’s Golden Jubilee celebrations held last year.
Samples of these pens were presented before the committee, alongside reports and contracts for over 17 items procured in preparation for the event by BoU officials led by Governor Tumusiime Mutebile and Secretary Susan Wasagali Kanyemibwa on Tuesday.
The committee chairperson, Abdu Katuntu, questioned the authenticity of the pens that were tabled.
The pens, black in colour and packed in gold coated boxes, were passed around to committee members who in unison stated that the product appeared too ordinary for the quoted price.
Katuntu said that the pens would be taken to UNBS, the government body mandated to protect the public against dangerous and sub-standard products.
He said that UNBS will work jointly with the auditor general to verify the standard, authenticity and pricing of the pens to aid ongoing investigations into the procurement.
Genuine Cross pens are supplied by A. T. Cross, the largest and oldest manufacturer of writing instruments in the United States.
Cross has been an official supplier of pens to the White House since at least the 1970s, according to its profile posted online.
Bank of Uganda officials failed to produce 154 audit reports related to three financial years and an unspecified number of contracts for money running into billions that was spent to bankroll the central bank’s lavish golden jubilee celebrations in 2016.
BoU officials failed to show evidence how Shs700 million was spent on an activity marked as School Challenges ahead of the Golden Jubilee celebrations, Shs100 million for refreshments and a cocktail at the Serena Hotel and Shs144 million for accommodation of golden jubilee guests.
On the missing audit reports, Kanyemibwa is quoted by Daily Monitor saying each BoU department makes particular audits and the audit reports are submitted to the board on a quarterly basis.
“The audit process is such that we make individual reports on each department and then at the end of every quarter, we extract issues that have been raised for action by management and also to see the status on how far management has [gone] to implement those issues,” Ms Kanyemibwa said.
Kanyemibwa’s explanation was, however, treated with scepticism by MPs who said that the bank officials were hiding information related to the money that was spent on BoU@50 celebrations.
Meanwhile, the Auditor General (AG) will now conduct an inquiry to establish whether the 350 pens bought at Shs125 million were genuine CROSS pens.