Wednesday April 2 2014

Public funds abuse on the rise - report

The Auditor General, Mr John Muwanga (C), hands

The Auditor General, Mr John Muwanga (C), hands over the report to Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga (R) as deputy AG Keto Nyapendi looks on at Parliament yesterday. PHOTO BY GEOFFREY SSERUYANGE 

By Yasiin Mugerwa

A new Auditor General’s report shows that the abuse of public funds is on the rise and warned that if nothing is done to stop the “hemorrhage” in various ministries and departments; efforts to fix the impediments to service delivery will be hindered.

The annual report to Parliament released yesterday, indicated that more than Shs65.8 billion advanced to government employees in 2012/13 to carry out various government activities remains unaccounted for and some expenditures lack supporting documents.

Some of the culprits named by Mr Muwanga are, Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (Shs30 billion), Ministry of Health (Shs13 billion), Uganda Road Fund (Shs12.4 billion), Local Government (Shs2.1 billion) and more than Shs2.8 billion to Office of the Prime Minister all remain unaccounted for.

The report also indicated that more than Shs15 billion MPs spent on foreign trips remains unaccounted for. The MPs and staff of Parliament failed to provide the accountability of the funds and as such the AG could not confirm whether that they indeed travelled.
Another Shs254.7 billion relating to 21 bank accounts lacks supporting documents and the auditors have asked Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee to investigate this matter.

In spite of putting in place commitment control systems, domestic arrears continued to rise without justification. For instance, the AG found that indebtness of the ministries jumped from Shs763.1billion in 2011/12 to Shs1.1 trillion in the year under review.

On oil revenue, a review of Bank of Uganda financial statements revealed that the bank had invested part of the Oil Tax Fund in short-term money deposits. According to the bank only $171million was invested during the year under review which yielded interest of $246,344 (about Shs640million). However, the Auditor General noted that, with instructions from Secretary to the Treasury authorised the bank to invest part of the oil money and gave directions on the utilization of interest accrued without any investments guidelines.

“There is a risk that the bank may undertake unauthorised investments which are not in tandem with the underlying laws applicable to utilisation of oil revenues,” Mr Muwanga said.