Ugandans who were told by their political leaders to tighten their belts amidst the hard economic situation have again been left shocked by the profligacy of their ruling class. This time around, it is the leadership of Parliament that has demonstrated this extravagance by procuring two new Mercedes Benz S500 L AMG line, for the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Anita Among, and Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Thomas Tayebwa.
Cost incurred visa vie market cost for Mercedes Benz S500?
SecretsKnown established that the cost incurred for procuring the two new Mercedes Benz vehicles according to the leaked quotation from the supplier – Albeit Limited was £ 520,000 (UGX 2.4 billion). The specifications of the two vehicles in the quotation were as follows:
- 2-unit new Mercedes Benz S500 L AMG Line
- Model: S500 L AMG Line
- Exterior: 197 – Obsidian Black
- Interior: Nappa Sienna Brown/Black 2 Tone
- Production: 2022
The cost quoted for the two Mercedes Benz vehicles was higher compared to some of the prices on the market. SecretsKnown carried out an online investigation of prices for the same Mercedes Benz car and did establish that each cost about $ 118, 625 (UGX 441 million). Other costs that would then be incurred as established by SecretsKnown would include:
- Roadworthiness inspection fee that goes for approximately $ 250 (UGX 931,361) per vehicle;
- Shipping costs from the United Kingdom to Kampala via Mombasa using a 20-foot container would go for about $ 1,981 (UGX 7.3 million) per vehicle;
- Professional clearing service which includes port charges in Mombasa, transport to Kampala Bond, clearing fees would cost about $ 2,500 (UGX 9.3 million).
Who is the supplier of these vehicles?
SecretsKnown established that the supplier is a United Kingdom firm known as Albeity limited that was incorporated in July 2018. The company currently has only two active Directors namely: Mr. Al-Kharusy Samir Tahhir, a Briton by nationality, and postal worker by occupation. He has been in the company since August 2018; second is Mr. Ibrahim, Nsibomana, who joined the company in December 2021 is a Briton by nationality and a driver by occupation. Three other former Directors resigned.
According to the United Kingdom companies house records, Albeity limited mainly deals in “other letting and operating own or leased real estate”. The company has no record of supplying automobiles and it’s not even part of their business.
Why then would Parliament of Uganda deal with such a company that has no track record of doing automobile business? Did Parliament do due diligence on Albeity limited? Could there be a possibility of Albeity limited being a shell company? These are some of the questions that need answers.
The dark-side of the Procurement process?
There was no competitive bidding process for the procurement of the two Mercedes Benz S500 vehicles. In an interview with Sunday monitor- a Ugandan news outlet, Mr. Chris Obore, Parliament’s Director of Communication and Public Affairs said that the House–through the office of the clerk to Parliament–obtained clearance from the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) not to use a competitive process of procurement.
As reported by Sunday Monitor, Mr. Chris Obore further said Parliament invoked section 7.4 (iv) of the PPDA guidelines on procurement in emergency situations. Which stipulates that “where there is a necessity to act immediately, the necessary goods should be obtained directly from the most convenient providers, who are able to deliver within a short lead time”.
Why would procurement of vehicles be considered an emergency situation? What was being hidden by not opting for competitive bidding? It has now become a norm for procurement rules to be bent to allow big procurements to be done without following the effective procedure. Yet, procurement is among the grey areas that make Uganda lose about UGX 20 trillion ($5.2 billion) annually in corruption as per the Inspectorate of Government survey report of 2021.
The profligacy of the ruling class in Uganda clearly shows that they care more about themselves and not about the citizens whom they lead. The country’s economic situation is currently worsening with the inflation rate standing at 6.3%, meanwhile, the public debt stock which continues to grow stands at UGX 73.5 trillion ($ 19.4 billion). The ruling class needs to start leading by example through cutting down their expenditure during such hard economic times.