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Parliament asked to toughen on accounting officers

FILE PHOTO: Assistant Auditor General Keto Nyapendi Kayemba

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Assistant Auditor General Keto Nyapendi Kayemba wants Members of Parliament on the accountability, budget, and finance committees to be tough on accounting officers.

Kayemba was speaking at the half-day sensitization seminar for members of parliament of the accountability, budget and finance committees on the key highlights in the Financial Year 2017/18 Auditor General’s report.

The sensitization workshop was to guide members of the accountability committees on key issues as they start considering the report. They are expected to present a report on the audit report in six months.

Auditor General’s report for 2017/18 was tabled in Parliament in January.

The report also noted that 40 entities failed to submit their strategic plans, which are key during appropriation for funds by Parliament.

Kayemba noted that although there was an improvement in financial reporting, the committees must be keen on gaps in government planning and budgeting such as lack of service delivery standards for all ministries departments, agencies, and local governments.

Kayemba wants the committees to be tough on the accounting officers when considering the report of the Auditor General.

Kayemba told the MPs that although financial reporting has generally improved, the wasteful expenditure increased from 2.7 billion shillings in 2016/2017 to 66.9 billion shillings.

Funds not accounted for also increased from 18 billion to 21.7 billion shillings and mischarge of expenditure from 83.8 billion to 370 billion shillings.

The most notable entities were Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) that mischarged 314 billion shillings and Judiciary that mischarged 34 billion shillings while there was wasteful expenditure of 43.7 billion shillings by Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd in the Mbarara-Nkenda Transmission Line project.

The judiciary was the only entity from the 18 entities in the central government that had an adverse opinion. An adverse opinion is arrived at when there are misrepresentations in the accounts.

The report explained that the 34 billion shillings in the judiciary’s annual budget of 120 billion was not reflected on its accounts, its rent of 2 billion shillings had no supporting documents among other misrepresentations on its accounts.

Chairperson of the Budget Committee, Amos Lugoloobi of Ntenjeru North County, concurs with Kayemba that committees must toughen and demand accountability from UNRA, the judiciary and other entities that have mischarged funds.

Lugoloobi commended the Auditor General for also inviting the budget committee and that of finance to the sensitization workshop unlike in the past when it focused on only the four accountability committees on central government, local governments, statutory authorities, and state enterprises and government assurances.

He noted that the Auditor General needs to interface with the budget committee at least twice a year because budgets fund plans and therefore the audit reports should inform the budget committee and the entire parliament on whether or not to appropriate funds to entities and also projects.

The Chairperson for Public Accounts (Local Governments) Judith Franca Akello noted that there is a need to address unprofessionalism of some officials from the Auditor General’s office where some ask entities to author good audits.

Moroto County MP, Fred Angella says that there is need to strengthen other anti-corruption agencies because the Auditor General, Parliament and Inspector General of Government (IGG) are not able to deal with misuse of public funds effectively.

Alebtong woman MP, Christine Achen Ayo and Butebo  Woman MP Agnes Ameede say that the Auditor General’s report is a review of funds spent, misused and that there is need to simplify the report for MPs.

The Auditor General’s report for 2017/2018 audited 1919 entities and noted that of the 466 audited local governments, commissions and ministries, departments and agencies, 37 have audit queries (qualified opinion) and the judiciary as the only entity with an adverse opinion.

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