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Parliament probes constant ‘errors and omissions’ in Ministry of Finance books

State Minister of Finance David Bahati. Ministry of Finance officials at the centre of controversy.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The National Economy committee of Parliament is investigating circumstances under which the Ministry of Finance failed to reconcile money amounting to 666 billion Shillings for the month of March 2020.

According to a presentation by Parliament’s Budget Office to the National Economy Committee, up to 666 billion Shillings was indicated as errors and omissions by the Ministry of Finance. This is contained in a report of the budget office on the status of Uganda’s economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The budget office led by Budget Director Sulaiman Kiggundu told committee members that the amount of money indicated as errors and omissions in their accounting was way too high and needed to be investigated.

“Whenever you add all those sources, the external source and the domestic source, you find that you have not arrived at the amount you need to finance the cap, so that difference is errors and omissions. It should be very small because eventually, you should find where the mistake was, when it is big, it is questionable,” The officials said.

They said that the Ministry of Finance has several times posted such errors and omissions in its accounts, including 816 billion Shillings in June 2019, 993 billion Shillings in July 2019, 403 billion Shillings in November 2019, 650 billion Shillings in January 2020 and now 666 billion in March 2020.

The committee chairperson Syda Bbumba has told URN that the errors are being investigated looking at the huge amounts in billions of Shillings that appear as errors. Bumba says that it is unusual that a department posts such errors continually.

Kaberamaido County MP Veronica Bichetero Eragu says that the figures are worrying but what is important is that the errors seem to stretch for many years.

Erute North MP Jonathan Odur says that usually, there is what is called mis-posting in finance, as someone can write 10 million instead of 1 million, but that should be detected and rectified through balancing. He says this appears to be a well-orchestrated fraud to steal money.

Some experts in Finance and economy told URN that actual money could have been lost, but it might also be an issue of failure to reconcile their tally.

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