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EAC ministry tasked to explain unspent pension funds

FILE PHOTO: PAC

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of East African Community Affairs Permanent Secretary Edith Mwanje has been tasked to explain a failure to utilize funding that was allocated for the payment of pensioners.

The ministry received an allocation of 31 billion Shillings, during the financial year 2017/2018, to clear pension arrears for employees of the defunct East African Airways (EAA).  However, according to a report by the Auditor General, a total of 11.68 billion Shillings was not spent by the close of the financial year and was subsequently returned to the consolidated fund.

This included 11.27 billion Shillings which was meant for gratuity arrears, unpaid salaries of 244.2 million Shillings and pension arrears amounting to 209.3 million Shillings.

But Mwanje told the Public Accounts Committee of parliament that although for 624 employees of the defunct East African Airways were planned for, only 420 people turned up for verification after a call for the beneficiaries was sent out. However, only 400 qualified for the payment and were paid a total of 20 billion Shillings altogether.

Mbarara Municipality MP Michael Tusiime faulted the Ministry for submitting a budget to parliament before undertaking verification of the beneficiaries.

In her response, Mwanje said that they did not have enough time to carry out the verification before the budget process because the list which included the 624 beneficiaries was just forwarded from the Public Service Ministry for payment.

Fred Angela, the Moroto Municipality MP said Mwanje should be held liable for failure to spend funds as required by law.

But Mwanje insisted that the 624 pensioners had been initially verified by the Public Service Ministry and she could not just pay out money without re-validating the people in order to avoid ghost pensioners.

PAC Vice Chairperson Okin P.P Ojara directed Mwanje to avail his committee with documentation regarding the payment of the 400 pensioners and the pending payments. He also demanded evidence from the Ministry indicating efforts made to reach out to all the beneficiaries.

The Ministry received a total allocation of  63.803 billion Shillings for all its activities during the year.

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