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Justice Ministry blames treasury for failed procurements

Solicitor General Francis Atoke appearing before PAC with other Justice Ministry officials.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Solicitor General Francis Atoke has blamed the failure by the Justice ministry to absorb its entire budget on late disbursement of funds.

Atoke was appearing before the Public accounts committee of parliament on Thursday as the accounting officer of the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) to answer queries in the auditor general’s report for the financial year 2018/2019.

MPs on the committee led by the chairperson Nandala Mafabi tasked him to explain why a balance of Shillings 148m remained unspent out of a total disbursement of 1.7bn shs to the ministry of Justice and constitutional affairs for the year under review. The bulk of this money was un-utilized Shillings 72m meant for staff training.

Relatedly according to the auditor general’s report, a total of 19.6bn under the JLOS institutions remained unspent by the end of the financial year out of available funds totaling to Shillings 102bn.

Atoke however argued that late release of funds by the treasury was the reason some disbursements remained unspent, he claimed that money for the final quarter was released in June when the financial year was ending making it impossible to execute the planned activities.

Atoke pointed to a case in the year under review where 3bn shs was released to the Justice ministry in June and the ministry had to struggle to ensure that the activities it had planned for were executed before the close of the financial year, he however said this was impossible given the limited time until the end of the financial year when unused balances are supposed to revert back to the consolidated fund.

The Amudat woman MP Mary Nauwat was curious about how Shillings 59.5m meant for newspapers and books remained unspent and inquired from Atoke about whether or not the ministry has pre-qualified firms who can be called upon on short notice when the need arises.

Atoke argued that it would not be possible to have the books supplied on short notice since they are printed in the UK, Australia and the United States.

Nandala Mafabi however observed that at the start of every quarter the entities receive a cash limit detailing how much funds they should expect and plan accordingly but Atoke noted that the cash limit arrived on the 29th of May.

When Atoke denied to take responsibility for the failed procurements, Nandala Mafabi asked him to provide evidence of late receipt of funds. The committee has in the meantime promised to follow up the matter with the Secretary to the Treasury.

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