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PAC grills immigration officials over unauthorized domestic arrears expenditure

FILE PHOTO: Public Accounts Committee

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has grilled officers from the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control-DCIC over unauthorized expenditure of Shillings 2.2 billion on domestic arrears.

The officers were appearing before the Committee chaired by the Budadiri West MP Nathan Nandala Mafabi led by Maj. Gen Apollo Kasiita-Gowa, the Director Citizenship and Immigration  Control on Thursday afternoon to respond to audit queries raised by the Auditor General in his June 2018 report.

“I observed that the Directorate made a small provision of Shillings 1.04 billion towards settlement of domestic arrears to the tune of Shillings 6 billion, which was outstanding from the prior year. I further observed that an amount of Shillings 8.85 billion remained outstanding as at end of year, 30th June 2018. The increasing arrear amount poses risks of litigation and related costs to DCIC,” reported Auditor General John Muwanga.

Domestic arrears is the total value of unpaid bills for goods and services rendered to a government entity including wages and pension that remain outstanding at the closure of a financial year. Nandala tasked Maj. Gen Apollo Kasiita-Gowa to explain why they spent Shillings 2.2 billion on arrears over and above the approved Shillings 1.04 billion.

This followed a review of the financial statements of the directorate for the 2017/2018 financial year where a total budget of Shillings 47.1 billion was allocated. Nandala demanded that Kasiita avails the committee a letter authorizing them to over spend on domestic arrears and the activities that were affected by the reallocation of the funds.

Kasita directed the question to his Principal Accountant, Stephen Bwire who said they had commitment in the 2016/2017 financial year totaling to Shillings 2.2 billion, which they paid in addition to the Shillings 1.04 billion allocated. Asked where he got authority to spend more money than what was allocated, Bwire said the budget execution circular from Finance Ministry confused them.

His explanation didn’t convince the committee. Nandala asked Bwire whether the Directorate sought for clarification on the budget execution circular. Kasiita weighed in saying that they were duty bound to clear earlier arrears.

Bwire explained that they made payment related to the e-border management system where the provider was threatening to switch off the system if the Directorate hadn’t paid what they owed him.

His statement was also rejected by the committee, which maintained that without a budget, the expenditure is illegal.

Section 15 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), 2015 requires accounting officers to adhere to the approved annual budget approved by parliament and the annual cash flow plan.

Kasiita then apologized for the mishap, saying majority of the officials in the Directorate are new including himself.

He was appointed in December 2018 by President Yoweri Museveni following the interdiction of the former Director, Godfrey Sasaga and the Commissioner for Immigration, Anthony Namara.

PAC adjourned the meeting with the immigration officials after legislators noticed inconsistencies in their books of accounts. Nandala gave the officials more time to reconcile the accounts and appear next week to continue with the meeting.

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