The Minister of Trade, Industries, and Cooperatives, Francis Mwebesa, has taken action against the Executive Director of Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), David Livingstone Ebiru, due to allegations of fraud and misconduct.
Ebiru has been placed on a six-month forced leave following the Minister’s letter dated 20 July 2023, which stated that the suspension is effective immediately to allow for a thorough investigation into the accusations of misappropriation of funds, misconduct, and abuse of office.
The allegations against Ebiru involve the unauthorized expenditure of 12.5 billion Shillings, as highlighted in the Auditor General’s Report for the fiscal year 2021/2022 on UNBS’s financial statements.
The Public Accounts Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (PAC-COSASE) chaired by Joel Ssenyonyi initiated a probe that revealed Ebiru’s involvement in transferring funds from the Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) suppliers account to a Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) account, which is a program under UNBS designated to receive donor funds.
During the investigation, it was disclosed that out of the 17.964 billion Shillings in the GAIN account, Ebiru authorized only 5.499 billion Shillings to be sent to the Consolidated Fund, while he directed the remaining 12.464 billion Shillings to support UNBS operations.
Ebiru admitted that his actions violated the Public Finance Management Act of 2014, but he defended them by stating that they were necessary to fulfill the Bureau’s obligations after experiencing a budget cut of 20 billion Shillings during the reviewed fiscal year.
Before the Minister’s intervention, both the Inspectorate of Government and the UNBS Board had already written letters to suspend Ebiru from his position pending investigations into the alleged malpractice.
However, in a shocking revelation, Ebiru confessed to bribing the UNBS Board with 100 million Shillings to avoid suspension.