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DPP fails to explain UGX 321m rent arrears at workers house

The deputy DPP Vincent Wagona and his principal accountant Steven Balisanyuka appearing before PAC (L). Courtesy photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Members of Parliament on the Public accounts committee of Parliament have flagged a suspicious record by the Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) of Shillings 321m in rental arrears.

The entry is recorded in the financial statement of the ODPP for the financial year ending June 2019.

According to the deputy DPP, Vincent Wagona the figure of 321m was brought forward from the previous financial year with 182m being disputed and written off since the landlord had no evidence to support the claim. The stock of rental arrears for the financial year remained at 117m following a payment of 21m.

Wagona led a team of officials from the ODPP before the committee on Thursday to respond to queries in the auditor general’s report for the year ending June 2019.

The ODPP is housed in Workers house that is owned by the National Social Security Fund -NSSF.

MPs were curious as to how dubious figures with no supporting documents were entered into the financial statement of the directorate and were approved by the principal accountant and the internal auditor.

The Mbarara Municipality MP Michael Tusiime wondered how an item like rent can become a matter of dispute when it is always clear how much is owed given the length of tenancy. He quizzed the principal accountant Steven Balisanyuka on whether the rent obligations keep fluctuating and why rent arrears were not verified conclusively.

Balisanyuka told MPs on the committee that the directorate now occupies two and a half floors of workers house as well as premises upcountry. He noted that landlords keep adjusting rent upwards and stated that this is a normal practice by private real estate owners.

He also revealed that the management of Workers house shifted from the property managers to NSSF in January 2015. When quizzed on whether or not the department entered into a long term lease, he pointed out that the rent agreement with NSSF is annual. He said the directorate has a rental agreement with NSSF for the 11th and 12th floors which was extended to cover a third wing on the 7th floor hence an increase in rent.

Balisanyuka however distanced himself from the entry noting that it was his predecessor who made the record. He said he couldn’t immediately provide an answer as to how and why the rent arrears accumulated.

According to Balisanyuka, the ODDP in Kampala has a rental bill of 335m per quarter.

The chairperson of the committee MP Nandala Mafabi argued that there must be in existence a ledger detailing rental records and running balances depending on amounts paid.

He noted that such unsupported and inflated domestic arrears had been rampant in government ministries and departments until the Finance ministry hired a private audit firm to verify them.

MP Nandala Mafabi has asked the team from the ODPP to avail the committee with the ledger that contains a record of rental payments to NSSF since 2010 to date.

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