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Gender Ministry fails to justify UGX 3.7b domestic arrears payment

FILE PHOTO: Public Accounts Committee

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Gender has failed to explain an expenditure of 3.7 billion Shillings on domestic arrears over and above an appropriated budget. The Ministry was allocated 183 million Shillings for clearance of domestic arrears during the Financial Year 2017/2018.

The officials Led by their former Permanent Secretary (PS) Pius Birigimana, struggled to convince the Public Accounts of Parliament this morning that the expenditure was inevitable.

Bigirimana told the committee that the expense was in line with guidelines on domestic arrears expenditures issued by the Secretary to Treasury Keith Muhakanizi. But he asked for more time to present the guidelines, as soon as he was pushed by the committee to avail the guidelines he was making reference to.

Emily Birekeyaho, the Ministry of Gender Principal Accountant told the committee that the domestic arrears paid were in relation to utilities, pension and Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE). She said that the money was diverted from the Workman’s compensation budget and the SAGE vote, whose beneficiaries have not been verified.

Birekeyaho also argued that arrears take first call on the budget as per a circular issued by the Secretary to Treasury, and equally sought for more time to present the required documentation.

But Matheniko County MP observed that the Secretary to Treasury cannot replace provisions under the Public Finance Management Act. It’s on the basis of the arguments that committee chairperson Nathan Nandala Mafabi tasked the Gender Ministry to produce authorization for spending on items that had not been budgeted for.

Meanwhile, Nandala also raised concern over the poor budget absorption rate of the Ministry of Gender during the financial year 2017/2018. Out of a total approved budget of 173 billion, the ministry received disbursements totalling 144 billion Shillings but only spent 142 billion Shillings, leaving unspent balances of 2 billion Shillings.

Nandala tasked the Gender Ministry to explain in writing why it never utilized money as provided and also give an explanation of different activities that were affected.

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