The Soroti West Division Member of Parliament, Hon Jonathan Ebwalu has asked government to carry out a forensic audit into the mismanagement of the Soroti Fruit Factory.
Raising on a matter of national importance, Ebwalu said that the managers of the factory and the Uganda Development Cooperation (UDC) are running the factory as a personal business.
“The management of the factory has abused the running of the factory. For example, they built a perimeter wall around the factory at Shs2.5 billion and a road that cost Shs5.5 billion making it the most expensive perimeter wall and one kilometre road in the world,” he said.
He added that the managers of the factory are frustrating the local farmers yet the factory was supposed to uplift their economic status.
“They are buying fruits from the neighbouring countries like Kenya, Tanzania and Congo and frustrating the farmers in the area. Even the pumps that had been donated by government free of charge were sold to the farmers at Shs200,000 each losing the purpose in which government intended it,” Ebwalu said.
The Executive Director of UDC, Patrick Bitonder Birungi in 2018 fired the board that had been put in place. Currently, the factory is being run with no board.
“The staff are being hired and fired at will because there are no procedures to recruit the staff. We need to do a forensic audit of these two organisations so that the Ugandans can gain from this factory,” he said.
The Government Chief Whip, Hon Thomas Tayebwa said that the allegations were grave but, ‘if there is any mismanagement, it needs to be investigated.”
“The allegations are grave and are exhibiting high level of mismanagement and incompetence of the top managers of these two companies. I request that we give the Minister of Trade two weeks to investigate and report back to the House,” Tayebwa said.
The Deputy Speaker, Anita Among who chaired the House said that the allegations by Ebwalu may be a reality.
“Soroti fruit factory wasn’t worth being there. We have spent a lot of money on that factory but the output is zero. I hereby ask the Minister of Trade and the Parliamentary Committee of Trade to carry out individual audits and we shall debate them together next week,” Among said.