Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has asked the Auditor General to present a forensic audit report on the financial accounts of Gulu University in the next four weeks.
The request was made during a meeting with Gulu University officials led by the acting secretary Asaf Adebua. The officials had appeared before the committee to respond to audit queries raised in the financial year 2018/2019. However, before the interaction, Bukoto East MP Florence Namayanja recounted an earlier forensic audit demanded by the committee on the University’s financial accounts for the financial year 2017/2018 that is yet to be presented.
It’s on the basis of this that committee chairperson Nathan Nandala Mafabi said that the process had been interrupted by the COVID-19 lockdown but directed the Auditor General’s representative to the committee to finalize the audit process and present a report in the next one month.
On March 6, 2020, the committee directed the Office of the Auditor-General to carry out a forensic audit on the financial accounts of Gulu University for the financial year 2017/2018 citing misappropriation of funds. The MPs then expressed concern that the entity has for the past three financial years received a qualified opinion on its accounts by the Auditor General indicating that the finances of the university were not handed well.
A qualified opinion means a statement issued by an auditor accompanying an entity’s audited financial statements suggesting that the financial information provided by the entity is limited in scope or a material issue with regard to the application of generally accepted accounting principles.
In the 2017/2018 financial year report, the Auditor General highlighted a failure by the University to fully implement planned activities like drawing a master plan and business plan for the seven pieces of land that they possess. He also indicated a failure to rehabilitate the Dean of students block, Academic Registrar’s block and Planning block.
He added that the University received over 40.6 billion Shillings beyond its approved budget of 39 billion Shillings. Another 5 billion Shillings domestic arrears relating to allowances, employee costs, goods and services were not disclosed in the entity’s final financial statement.
PAC vice chairperson Okin Ojara said that the committee had received a petition from one of the Gulu University staff members highlighting a number of financial misappropriations during the financial year.
Review of University Council minutes revealed that the University lost 48,527,800, Shillings which had been withdrawn by an accounts staff from the bank, a matter which was reported to police and investigated. The University Council had resolved that the funds be recovered from the officer in question.
However, according to the auditor general, only 15 million Shillings had been recovered by the time of audit in October 2018. The unrecovered amount was not disclosed in the financial statements, contrary to financial regulations.