Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has faulted the Mubende Regional Referral Hospital Director, Alex Andema over a 777.8 million Shillings wrongly expenditure on a stalled building.
Andema and other hospital officials on Tuesday appeared before the committee chaired by Budadiri West MP Nathan Nandala Mafabi to answer to audit queries raised by Auditor General John Muwanga in his June 2018 report.
In the report, Muwanga queried the wrongful expenditure of 777.8 million Shillings on codes other than those for which funds were appropriated without authority.
According to Muwanga, mischarged expenditure undermines the purpose of budgeting and budget control. He further reports that the accounting officer told him that majority of the payments related to accrued unpaid commitments over prior years made in tandem with the guidance of the Secretary to Treasury to have unpaid commitments of previous year take first call on budget.
MPs learnt that the big chunk of the funds amounting to 675 million was spent on paying ACE Consult Limited accumulated certificates for construction of a hospital building. The project which was earlier envisaged to be financed by the World Bank under the Uganda Health Systems Strengthening Project (UHSSP) was dropped leaving the developed plans for two building idle.
Andema told PAC that with no donor funding, the hospital management then identified the construction of one of the two buildings as a priority with a multi-year project approved by the Finance Ministry starting with the financial year 2013/2014.
The building was to house the Paediatric, Surgical and Isolation Wards, Private Wing, Theatre and Pathology department.
“A contract with Ms. ACE Consult for construction of this building was signed in financial year 2013/2014. The contract value was 7.48 billion and had been planned to get complete in two years,” said Andema.
Tasked by Nandala to explain the wrongful expenditure on the project since it was not budgeted for in financial year 2017/2018, Andema defended his actions, saying that during the past years, the budget allocation to the hospital development budget has been dwindling and that this led to delay and stoppage in works on the building.
He noted that the works are now at roofing level with accumulated unpaid certified Interim Payment Certificates (IPC’s) worth 2.48 billion and that the level of certified works per certificate is far much higher than the budget allocated to them.
Andema said that the situation of the building and the unpaid certificates forced him to make a wrongful expenditure given that the contractor had threatened to sue the hospital.
However, Nandala rejected his excuse for going against provisions of the Public Finance Management Act, 2015 noting that it was because of such omissions that the hospital was given a qualified opinion by the Auditor General.
Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga said that it cannot be a mistake that the hospital wrongly expended the funds since the officials knew they had unpaid arrears on the building and never took steps to budget for them
The same sentiments were shared by Kwania County MP Ayo Tonny and Amudat Woman MP Rosemary Nauwat who accused the hospital officials for negligence.
Nandala directed the Hospital Director to avail his committee by tomorrow with the contract of the building and a ledger of how much money has so far been paid and the balance.
He also demanded the Hospital Director to provide evidence that Ministry of Finance Okayed the diversion of funds on the construction project and other items including cleaning services at the hospital, maintenance of machinery and equipment, medical and veterinary supplies and others.