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OPM, Defence ministry accounting officers withdraw from office

FILE PHOTO: Keith Muhakanizi revealed.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Permanent Secretaries Christine Guwatudde Kintu and Rosette Byengoma have asked to be relieved of the duties of accounting officers for the Office of the Prime Minister-OPM and the Ministry of Defence, respectively.

The Secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi revealed this in a letter addressed to the Clerk to Parliament Jane Kibirige. The letter, dated June 18, 2019, contains a list of appointed and designated accounting officers in different ministries, agencies, referral hospitals, missions abroad and local governments for the financial year 2019/2020.

The Public Finance Management Act requires the Secretary to the Treasury to provide parliament with the list of accounting officers for different government entities before the beginning of a new financial year.

The Accounting Officers according to the law, carry out the mandate of controlling the regularity and proper use of money appropriated to their ministries, agencies or entities, are responsible for authorizing any commitment and control the resources received, held or disposed of.

According to the list, Christine Guwatudde was replaced with Joel Wanjala for the Office of the Prime Minister and Edith Buturo replaced Rosette Byengoma as the accounting officer for the Ministry of Defence. The new appointees have been serving as Under Secretaries in the two entities.

According to Muhakanizi, the two are still in charge of the respective ministries but cease to be accounting officers.  An Accounting Officer is a person who controls and is personally accountable to Parliament for the regularity and propriety for all resources wholly funded through the Consolidated Fund.

The Secretary to Treasury rules out cases of inefficiency and accountability flaws as reasons behind the changes of the officers insisting that his action was majorly their decision through formal communication.

Jim Mugunga, the Finance Ministry Spokesperson says that it’s the mandate of the Secretary to Treasury to appoint accounting officers and that his decisions are majorly based on reports filed by different accounting officers at the end of every financial year on expenditure and management of public funds availed to their entities.   Besides the two changes, Muhakanizi maintained accounting officers for other government ministries and agencies who have been serving in the current financial year 2018/2019.

Some of these include Permanent Secretary Hajji Yunus Kakande as accounting officer for Office of the President, State House Comptroller Lucy Nakyobe Mbonye, Catherine Bitarakwate for Public Service Ministry, Solicitor General Francis Atoke for Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ministry, Alex Kakooza for the Education Ministry and Dorcas Okalany for the Lands Ministry, among others.

These are regularly required by Parliament to offer accountability on behalf of their entities concerning policies, regulations and expenditure of appropriated funds in the budget. Parliament in the coming financial year 2019/2020 appropriated 32 trillion Shillings to different government entities out of the total approved 40.48 trillion Shillings budget.

The other money is to be sourced from the Petroleum Fund, Domestic Financing, external financing and general budget support.

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