Uganda Government is facing ‘embarrassment’ for failing to honor contract signed by Ministry of Trade with JB IT Consult based in Katabi, Entebbe for five years now. According to documents seen by HICGI News Agency, the private IT Firm headed by John Ntalo a resident of Entebbe was contracted by Ministry of Trade for supply of ICT supplies and upon execution of work, government did not advance full payment as per contract.
We have spoken to John Ntalo who has shared his plight while trying to demand for his company money.
HICGI News Agency – What is the cause for demanding government?
How did it start, what happened and how much money do you demand?
John Ntalo: It all started in 2017 with the Ministry of Trade and Industries under the Permanent Secretary Mr Julius Onen (the late), and Hon Amelia Kyambadde, then minister.
The Ministry of Trade and Industries formed a separate corporate body which acted as an investment arm called Uganda National Commodity Exchange (UNCE). This was meant to regulate the price of all agricultural produces for the local and international markets in Uganda.
The investment arm signed a memorandum of understanding between we the local firm on behalf of the ministry of trade to supply, install and maintain software and hardware for example supply of computers, projectors, servers, telephones and the necessary equipment to be used in the field operation by the ministry officials.
The job was well executed and we provided the ministry with a certificate of completion as witnessed by their supervisor assigned to us.
However, after two years of not receiving our payment for the work which was done, the permanent secretary died (Julius Onen) and I started following up my pay with madam Grace Choda who replaced the late Julius Onen as the acting permanent secretary by then. To my knowledge, currently madam Grace Ichoda acts as the under secretary in the ministry.
Following years of failed appointments, eventually Madam Grace Ichoda told me that there was an error made during the creation of the technical arm of the ministry.
And I told her that I didn’t know what mistake happened because and not inclusive in the system and so we did the work depending on the assigned contract. There were other documents that indicated that the work was done and so for that reason, we are not to blame because of the made errors that we are not aware of. Those men made me run up and down in vain.Though the contract signed indicated that there was an interest implying that incase one is done with the work and is not paid, there will be an increase of 3% of the interest every month upon default.
But ever since I started demanding for my money, its now 5 years down the road and we’re not paid right from year 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 to 2022. We had collected staff on credit and paid asmall amount of money and so, we are also being demanded.
If we the citizens are treated in this manner then what do we do?
There is an organisation called the UDC that has a hand on UNCE and its disavantage is that one can not get to it easily. Though as a ministry, they must be aware of the relationship between them and the UDC.
At first, they said its them to pay and UDC said its the ministry to pay because the agreement I have is for the ministry and so I can’t tell which is which.
Actually before that scenario, when Hon Kyambadde was still a minister, I sent her a watsup message which kept to date inquiring how far my payment was. Her response was, “Am working on your issues together with the Executive Director of UDC and the Permanent secretary for ministry of trade” of which she told me that she would get back to me when the preparations of the money are ready. unfortunately, until today no one she gave me responds to me.
We keep suffering because of the government and yet we worked wholeheartedly.
HICGI News Agency : According to you how much money were you supposed to pay the government?
John Ntalo: The first contract was 77 million, the second one was 28 million while the third one was 6000 dollars that is about 15- 16 million.
HICGI News Agency : So what could be the total amount with interest you should be paid?
Ntalo John : If we total up the interest and all the struggles I have gone through to have my money, its around 500 million together with the interest and also if we total the damages of losing so many things like the company which has almost collapsed because every money I have been getting has been paying debts.
There has been nothing like development at all.
Due to all the damages made, I will say 1.5 Billion and all together it will add up to 2 Billion because its beyond.
HICGI News Agency: How did you know about the contract? Was there a procurement and bidding process?
As I have told you that they had an-expert who was in charge of the arrangements of all those things.There were so many companies who wanted payments right away and so they requested for half front payment and of which they were expensive.
It is mine that was so low and with government bidding, if accompany falls in a low budget, it’s that very one they will choose. And I was selected and therefore we had to agree upon some a least amount of money from them which they pleaded that they will give me all the documents and contracts etc to confirm and pay me.
And when I was given the contract, they also gave me the local purchase order.All these symptoms indicated that by all means, one would be paid their money. But to my surprise, untill today nothing at all.
HICGI News Agency: Have you ever interacted with the current minister Bahati?
John Ntalo : I have not interacted with any minister currently. But I made a follow up with some ministry officials though I was forced to make alot of movements.There is a time I got an appointment with the Permanent Scretary (Ms Geraldine Ssali the Permanent Secretary and accounting officer ) but still I didn’t see her. When I went to see her, I waited the whole day until evening and I left.
I wonder how acommon person can be able to get their money because we also have debts and need to be paid.
HICGI News Agency: How about the UDC Executive director, have you interacted with him before?
John Ntalo: The current Executive Director is Patrick Birungi and I have ever interacted with him, he told me that he feels what am going through but as for now, he can not do anything because some things were decided while he was not in office and at that time it was Mr Mutahunga Emmanuel who now is the Acting Commissioner for External Trade. I talked to him and he told me that he has tried his best to see that I am paid the money, he was midst of the whole thing and so, he knows what is on the ground.
Mutahunga and some other lady called Deborah who manages ware house. All these organisations are under ministry of trade and UDC inclusive.
HICGI News Agency: At this point, in case you fail to get that paid , is there any other means that you can use to get this money?
John Ntalo: I have made movements here and there writing letters but all in vain.
HICGI News Agency: To whom have you been writing the letters?
John Ntalo: I wrote to the Speaker of Parliament and I think they got some fear within them because they tried responding and engaging me as well but it didn’t go far.
I also wrote to the Permanent Secretary himself and I have copies that show they received my letters. I stoped writing letters in December last year untill today I have never received any feedback and I don’t know what is going on.
Do you have the possibility of hiring a Lawyer ?
HICGI News Agency:
John Ntalo: I don’t have the possibility because it all requires money for payment. The situation is not favourable.
HICGI News Agency:
I understand that those who supplied you arrested you and you were at CPS-Central Police Division, tell us about this.
John Ntalo: That’s another story because they are still on my neck seriously.
HICGI News Agency has engaged with Patrick Bitonder Birungi who serves as the executive director of Uganda Development Corporation (UDC), effective 4 April 2019. UDC is a Uganda government-owned company, established in 1952, that is mandated to promote investment in the country and to manage government-owned investments in private businesses and industries.
HICGI News Agency: Mr Birungi, we’re contacting you regarding JB IT Consult which Ministry of Trade and Industries contracted and for five years now, it wasn’t paid. Sources in the ministry say that UDC us supposed to pay.
ED UDC Patrick Birungi : All I can say is that UDC did not contract JB IT consult and has not promised anyone payment. We will however want to help resolve the issues for the support of young entrepreneurs like that one.
HICGI News Agency has seen emails and WhatsApp messages as well as letters corresponding to this matter between Government officials and JB IT Consult. We have prepared an audio interview on this matter which we shall upload on our YouTube Channel. www.youtube.com/HICGINewsAgency