Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Office of the Auditor General has reported to Parliament a backlog of 14,011 audits in 2020.
Auditor General John Muwanga together with several officials from his office on Wednesday presented a performance report for the financial year 2019/2020 and a half financial year 2020/2021 to Parliament’s Finance Committee.
Francis Masuba, the Assistant Auditor General- Corporate Services said that the increasing audit scope is one of the challenges facing the entity.
“The expanding scope of audit coverage (local governments and schools) in addition to increasing demand for public works audit, value for money audits, special audits and forensic investigations has been difficult to cope with due to limited staff and corresponding budgetary allocations to execute requests and audit plans,” he said.
According to Masuba, this results in accumulation of audit backlogs and that out of the total 18,259 audits in 2020, they planned to conduct 4,248 audits and this was only made possible through off-budget support.
Out of the 4,248 conducted audits by end of December 2020, 4,133 were financial audits, 21 Value for Money (Performance) audits, 12 specialized audits, 76 special investigations and 6 Information and Technology (IT) audits.
Asked by Kumi County MP Charles Illukor how the office decided on which entities to audit and leave out, Keto Kayemba, the Assistant Auditor General said that they always make an assessment to audit the high-risk institutions first and postpone the other audits.
MPs learnt that at the time of reporting, 70 audit reports for Ministries, Departments and Agencies- MDAs, 86 Statutory Corporations, 94 projects, 134 District Local Governments, 41 Municipal Councils, 360 schools and 681 Lower Local Governments had been produced and that several other audits remain in progress and shall be completed in February 2021.
The reporting deadline of the audit report to parliament had been extended after the Auditor General’s office failed to submit the 2019/2020 financial year report due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The report for the financial year end June 30, 2020, was expected by December 31, 2020.
Under the Constitution and the National Audit Act, the Office of the Auditor-General is required to audit all Ppublic accounts and submit to Parliament an annual report of the accounts audited. The audit report provides independent assurance on the use of public resources by revealing high-risk detailed findings or appropriate use of funds.
URN has established that some of the directors in the OAG had been admitted to hospital after testing positive for Covid-19 which affected the auditing process.
Helen Nanteza Kawesa, the Parliament Deputy Director of Communications and Public Relations recently confirmed that the Office of the Auditor General wrote to the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga informing her of their inability to submit the report on time due to the challenges of COVID-19 which affected the flow of work.
Masuba also says that the restrictions arising from efforts to curb the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the overall circumstances resulting from the pandemic, posed the biggest challenge to the Office in the financial year 2019/2020.
“Activities in the third and fourth quarters of the financial year were delayed whereas others were deferred,” he said.
Uganda registered its first coronavirus case in March 2020 prompting President Yoweri Museveni to place the country under lockdown as one of the measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. During the lockdown, restrictions including the closure of education institutions, suspension of mass gathering and others were put in place. Several government institutions also downsized their workforce and reduced their activities.
Masuba also noted budget cuts to the office totalling 5.3 billion Shillings which equally affected the audit of government expenditures.
“Non- realization of our projected cash flow requirements especially relating to consumptive items and the development has impeded budget execution. In the Financial year 2019/2020, the development budget release shortfall was 2.082 billion which adversely affected planned procurement of ICT equipment, land and scheduled payments towards the construction of staff quarters at Moroto branch office,” he explained.
The Assistant Auditor General- Corporate Services also revealed budget cuts amounting to 3.34 billion in the first quarter of the financial year 2020/2021 on consumptive items which impacted the implementation of their planned activities.
Documents before the Finance Committee indicate that during the financial year 2019/2020, the Office of the Auditor-General had an approved budget of 63.91 billion of which 27.77 billion was wage, 28 billion non-wage and 8.05 billion development budget.