Members of the Parliament sitting on the Budget Committee were upset after learning that the company that was given a tender to supply government 9million radio sets to be used for long distance learning as directed by President Yoweri Museveni has no manufacturing capacity.
The committee chaired by Ntenjeru north mp Amos Lugolobi discovered that the two radio samples availed by the factory were imported from China via DHL.
According to the committee members the factory has no capacity to manufacture or even assemble radios in Uganda.
During their site visit the MPs, the MPs only found transformers at the said factory.
The committee members noted that it was not prudent to spend the funds when schools could reopen in a few months.
The MPs had on October 29, 2020 refused to approve a request by officials from the Finance and Education ministries to approve the proposed expenditure of Shs 336.8 billion to purchase radio sets for promoting home learning.
During a meeting on Wednesday with the ministry officials led by the state minister for higher education John C. Muyingo they resolved to pay a visit to Orion Electricals which has been identified as the company to be awarded the job to locally manufacture the radios.
However MPs who visited Orion Electronics in Namanve were left dumb founded and disappointed by the situation they encountered.
Kumi County MP Charles Illukor said that it is highly doubtful that the company might even assemble radios much less manufacture.
He points out that the company says they will set up a plant within three months of getting the contract but even this assurance raises a lot of doubts given the evidence on the ground and the enormity of the task at hand.
He said that going by what he observed at Orion Electronics the ministry owes the committee an explanation.
Rwampara County MP Ngabirano Charles said that that there is no way the company can supply radios in a few months given the expertise they found at the plant.
The MPs agree that the plant cannot supply radios in the short run and therefore does not deserve to be awarded the contract for the emergency supply of radios.
West Budama north mp Richard Othieno Okoth the company can only produce radios in the long run and therefore there is no need for a supplementary allocation.
The State Minister for Planning David Bahati and his Higher Education counterpart John Chrysostom Muyingo had told the Committee that government seeks to procure 9 million radio set receivers as one of the strategies of supporting distance learning given that schools are closed due to Covid-19 pandemic.
The Education Ministry Permanent Secretary Alex Kakooza said that although the procurement of radios has been placed, they have not yet signed the contract due to the absence of funds.
The Permanent Secretary said that 5 million radio receivers are to be procured locally and supplied to homesteads after 60 to 90 days of signing of the contract. The committee also learnt that the remaining 4 million radio receivers to be imported would be delivered by December 2020 (2 million) and January 2021 (2 million).
Documents before the Budget Committee indicate that the imported radios will be supplied by four companies at different unit costs including Shs33, 925, Shs35,435, Shs 38,000 and Shs 42,182 inclusive of taxes. The locally procured radios are to be supplied at a unit cost of Shs37,465.