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Global Fund Ups Pressure On Govt Over Stolen AIDS Cash

The Monitor (Kampala) | 6 August 2008 | By Kakaire A. Kirunda

The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria has upped pressure on the government to recover $1.6 million of its grant money that was stolen in 2005.

Daily Monitor has learnt that for the second time in just over two months, a senior official of the Global Fund is currently in Uganda to follow up the matter.

“As we speak now our Inspector General [Mr John Parsons] is currently in Uganda,” on Monday in an interview on the sidelines of the ongoing world Aids conference (AIDS 2008) in Mexico City.

Mr Parsons was first in the country in late May to assess the progress made since an inquiry led by Principal Judge James Ogoola in 2005 pinned over 370 officials over the theft and misappropriation. With Mr Parsons’ return to the country, now his boss says the Global Fund is going to become extremely tough as regards recovering the stolen money.

“So I am requesting Uganda to conduct the investigations and that the money is returned to us. And we will keep the pressure on the country. We will mobilize the press and the public opinion until we have those monies,” added Dr Kazatchkine who wants the execution of the culprits expedited. Although the some of the funds have been recovered, the Global Fund boss said it was still unclear how much money should be recovered over all.

On Aug.24, 2005, the Global Fund suspended its portfolio of five grants worth $367 million to Uganda due to concerns about mismanagement by the Project Management Unit, an entity within the Ministry of Health at the time.

The suspension was however lifted two months later on November 10 after Uganda took what the Global fund referred to as “significant steps” to strengthen grant management.

To coincide with Aids 2008, the US based journal Science has published a critical article on the sluggishness by the Uganda government in investigating and prosecuting the culprits.

http://allafrica.com/stories/200808060143.html

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