Accounting Officers from the Mbale Audit region have faced a tough time before the Local Government Accounts Committee of Parliament as they responded to the Auditor General’s Opinion on the annual financial statements for the year ended 30th June 2015.
“The Committee has decided to come to Mbale to avoid excuses of missing documents by accounting officers when they are called to Kampala. We shall be talking to Local Government Accounting Officers in the company of their District Engineers, Finance Officers and Human Resource personnel who could assist in making responses,” said Hon. Reagan Okumu.
Hon. Okumu (FDC, Aswa), Chairperson of the Committee on Local Government Accounts, made these remarks in the Mbale District Council Hall where the committee met Chief Administrative Officers of all districts in the Mbale Audit region.
He emphasized that subject to Section 89 of the Local Governments Act, (Cap 246), the Committee on Local Government Accounts is mandated to examine the audited accounts in relation to the Auditor General’s Report laid before Parliament by the Minister showing the appropriation of funds granted by Parliament to local governments.
Mbale Municipality had issues of incomplete vouchers amounting to Ushs 33.2m and also had missing payment vouchers worth Shs10m; under collection of local revenue and use of inappropriate procurement methods.
Analysis carried out on the payroll revealed that 364 members of staff who were supposed to earn salaries amounting to Ugx 120,203,937, were paid Ushs 222,591,293 resulting into a salary over payment of Ugx 102,387,356. The committee was informed that they were expecting a full list of validated officers since many employees had completed registration for verification.
Having failed to satisfy the Committee, Hon. Okumu handed the Mbale Municipal Town Clerk Mr. Edward Lwanga, Municipal Engineer and the Finance Officer to Police.
“Action must be seen to be done and we are happy that the Executive has assigned Police personnel to the Committee; we hope that action is done so people can be given their services, he said.
Hon. Okumu wondered whether the Accounting Officers had the control of their dockets and if they had proper knowledge about accountability.
“Some accounting officers are not serious, imagine the team from Bukwo District came with no papers to present to the Committee and we had to send them away. That is a total loss to Mbale” he said.
He also talked about Sironko District Officials who had presented dubious accountability which he termed as unacceptable and he added that the Chief Administrative Officer was asked to refund the money.
Hon. Okumu informed the accounting officers that the major cause of crisis in local government is abuse of public offices, mismanagement, corruption, staffing and incompetence.
The Mbale Audit region comprises of Budaka, Koboko, Kween, Tororo, Mbale and Sironko among others.
“For the first time in the history of Parliament I want all queries for local government of 2014/2015 completed within the constitutional mandate of December and I can assure that we are on course and we shall try our level best to complete the work before us.” Hon Okumu said.
The committee is set to travel to Fort Portal and Mbarara Audit regions later this month.