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Lira hospital management tasked to explain failure to recruit staff

Dr Stephen Obbo

Lira, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT | Lira Regional Referral Hospital has been tasked to explain the failure to utilize 665 million Shillings allocated for the recruitment of staff. The hospital only spent 8.9 billion Shillings out of a total budget of 8.23 billion Shillings allocated during the financial year 2018/2019.

But according to the Hospital Director Dr Stephen Obbo, the unspent balance of 665 million Shillings had been meant for the recruitment of specialist staff at the hospital. However, the recruitment exercise had failed to take place.

Obbo was appearing before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday to respond to queries in the Auditor General’s report for the financial year. In his report, the Auditor General noted that the hospital only had 292 filled positions out of the approved staff structure of 428 positions, representing a staffing gap of 32 per cent.

It’s on the basis of this that committee Chairman Nathan Nandala Mafabi tasked Dr Obbo to explain why the recruitment was never done, despite the allocation and the need for staff. Dr Obbo explained that the hospital does not recruit directly but has to apply for permission to recruit through the Ministry of Public Service which then refers the request to the Health Service Commission and the Ministry of Health.

However, when asked to provide evidence of his attempt to seek permission to start the recruitment process, Dr Obbo failed to produce a letter to the Ministry of Public Service requesting permission to recruit. A copy of the letter he presented was rejected because it was written long after the end of the financial year in question. 

Bukoto East MP Florence Namayanja told the principal human resource officer Apollo Twinomugisha that the letter produced was irrelevant to the matter at hand. The said letter was written in November 2019. 

Twinomugisha said that an earlier correspondence to the Public Service Ministry had been written in January 2019 and that the rest of the letters were follow up correspondences. But the committee rejected his explanation since the letter he produced as proof of earlier correspondence did not bear any receipt stamp.

The MPs handed over the unmarked letter to the CID officer attached to PAC for investigations into whether the Public Service Ministry received the correspondence. Mafabi also resolved to hold the accounting officer negligent in his duty to recruit new staff.

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