Note: This is our record of what transpired in the meeting. Not verbatim.

Meeting with National Drug Authority (NDA)

Discussed in the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Entreprises on May 6th, 2015

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The Committee chaired by Honorable Ssemujju met with National Drug Authority (NDA) on queries raised in the Auditor General’s report for the FY 2012/13. The National Drug Authority (NDA) was established in 1993 by the National Drug Policy and Authority Statute which in 2000 became the National Drug Policy and Authority (NDP/A) Act, Cap. 206 of the Laws of Uganda (2000 Edition).

The Act established a National Drug Policy and National Drug Authority to ensure the availability, at all times, of essential, efficacious and cost-effective drugs to the entire population of Uganda as a means of providing satisfactory healthcare and safeguarding the appropriate use of drugs.

When meeting the board led by Mr. Zaramba, he intimated to the committee that Mr. Gordon Sematiko’s contract for Executive Secretary to the Authority was terminated because he failed to appear before the board when he was asked to and also because he threatened the board with “mafia”. Mr. Sematiko had been suspended for close to a week pending investigations after he deposited US$ 5 million in a fixed deposit account in Orient bank instead of Standard Chartered or Stanbic bank, before he was sacked. The account that earned NDA close to UGX 300 million was frozen and could not earn any more interest.

Committee members argued that the manner in which the board executed the termination was questionable because a week wasn’t enough to carry out investigations. Breaking into the accused’s office was another oversight on the part of the board because it can be interpreted as criminal. Honorable Tinkasiimire insisted on scrutinizing the authority’s human resource manual to confirm if that was how business was conducted in the Authority. Mr. Sematiko has previously petitioned Parliament and the President on wrongful termination.

NDA management also appeared before the Committee to respond to the queries. They include;

Its important to note that most of the staff at NDA were in acting positions including the Executive Director Ms Kate Kikule.

NDA faced several litigations, both civil and criminal which affected its activities. Some cases where settled amicably for example Frank Nyakahuma &18 others Vs NDA HCCs No.352 of 2012 where UGX 141 million was paid because of wrongful termination while others have been ruled in favor of NDA. Guidelines that had a force of law had since been gazette to avoid any further litigations.

The budget performance of NDA was poor. Of the anticipated revenue of UGX 26.647 billion only 24.813 was realized resulting in a shortfall of UGX 1.833 billion making it hard for the authority to implement its planned activities. On the other hand, the authority planned to spend UGX 23.621 billion but only spent UGX 19.370 billion indicating an underperformance. Management explained that the revenue shortfall was as a result of PS/ST giving a higher dollar rate than the actual market rate so receipts billed in USD were translated at a much lower price. The under expenditure arose from failure to recruit the planned 68 staff. In addition an interim board of 6 members was appointed instead of the full board of 20 people which drastically reduced board expenses in the year.

NDA also signed an MOU with Mulago Hospital regarding the re-development of demised premises on plots 6-10 North Kitante road but had neither secured a formal lease offer nor a land title. Management asserted than a lease application had been lodged with the Uganda Land commission and were awaiting a response.

A review of personal files of staff members showed 44 had worked with the authority for more than a year with expired contracts. Management explained that it was a senior management decision for the staff to continue working while awaiting board approval of the renewed contracts. Other queries included weaknesses in IT system controls, challenges in the legal department, procurement of motorcycles and vehicles without inspection or verification an engineer.

Honorable Ssemujju told management that NDA was in crisis and hoped it would be solved soon because the health of Ugandans is at stake. He also advised NDA to follow the law and not act on personal anger when solving matters at the authority.

NDA is expected to avail documented evidence of their responses to the committee for scrutiny.

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