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MPs question energy ministry officials over failure to spend UGX 10Bn

FILE PHOTO: Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has tasked officials from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development to explain why they failed to spend 10.1 billion Shillings which was partly meant to compensate Project Affected Persons (PAPs) in different areas.

Led by the Permanent Secretary Robert Kasande, the officials were today appearing before the committee to respond to audit queries raised in the financial year 2018/2019 Auditor General’s report.

In the report, Auditor General John Muwanga observed that there was under absorption of funds allocated to the Ministry. He noted that out of the provided budget of Shillings 484.03 billion, 473.9 billion was spent by the Ministry and the balance of Shillings 10.12 billion was unspent and swept back to the Consolidated Fund.

“The failure to absorb funds negates the purpose of funds allocation in addition to denying citizens timely access to services. As a result, 9 outputs were not implemented,” said the Auditor General in his report.

In response, the Energy Ministry Permanent Secretary Kasande said the bulk of the unspent money was for land and compensation to Project Affected Persons (PAPs) totaling to 4 billion Shillings, pension and gratuity 700 million Shillings, machinery and equipment 2 billion Shillings and others.

“Funds for salaries were also not absorbed due to attrition of staff to the newly created agencies namely Petroleum Authority of Uganda and Uganda National Oil Company. For land and compensation to PAPs, the challenge was due to rejection of compensation rates and delay to finalize the valuation report,” he said.

In regard to pension and gratuity, the officials said that the files in question were pending clearance by Ministry of Public Service while for the unspent money for machinery and equipment, the Permanent Secretary said there were inadequate resources to conclude some planned procurement’s of a drilling rig.

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairperson Nathan Nandala Mafabi questioned Kasande for undermining Section 15 of the Public Finance Management Act, 2015 which requires an accounting officer to commit the budget of a vote based on the annual cash flow plan. In defence, Kasande said that he is aware of the law but there are challenges that are beyond them.

Nandala demanded that his committee is availed with details of people who were supposed to receive 4 billion as land compensation. He gave the Ministry five days to avail the details to the committee.

Kasande also found a difficult time explaining why procurement of the drilling rig was not done despite a plan to do so.

Nandala also directed that the Ministry submits details of the drilling rig procurement process and the officials responsible for the delay.



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