Public sector lacks financial management skills - official

The Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala. According to the Accountant General of Government, the lack of financial management skills by public servants has worsened corruption in the country. PHOTO BY DOMINIC BUKENYA

Kampala. The public service has been riddled with corruption scandals mainly because of weaknesses within financial management in government entities.
Mr Lawrence Ssemakula, the Accountant General of Government, admitted that accountability in public entities had soft controls, which has worsened corruption.
“One of the biggest challenges for Public Financial Management has been weak accountability with soft control and widespread corruption within the political and bureaucratic frameworks,” he admitted.
Mr Ssemakula was speaking to accountants and human resource managers at the launch of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Advanced Diploma in Public Financial Management, on Tuesday.
He further noted that the local governments were not skilled enough to handle the changes being witnessed in the public sector.
Furthermore, he said few in the public sector are equipped on revenue management as things such as Private Public Partnerships (PPPs) have emerged.
PPPs have become popular with government and Chinese companies on power projects, roads and the Standard Gauge Railway. Critics say the cost for the Standard Gauge Railway is said to be high as public debt would more than double if the project went ahead.
Mr Ssemakula said there had been several interventions such as Office of the Auditor General, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and Inspector General of Government officials doing professional accountancy courses.
“It should be noted that whereas this intervention has had some impact, the gap for necessary Public Finance Management in the public sector remains big,” he added.
He noted the ACCA advanced diploma was a necessity for public sector workers. He said most of the ACCA courses were skewed towards the private sector.
“Given the pace of change and size of expenditure in the public sector, ACCA believes that it is critical to ensure finance professionals working in the sector are equipped with the right skills to meet the challenges ahead,” said Ms Beatrice Isagayite, the head of ACCA Uganda.

To receive basic services in Uganda, people pay taxes. It is then the responsibility of accounting officers in various government institutions to effectively manage the resources and provide essential services. Cases of corruption placed these officers and politicians in the line of fire. Further professionalisation is seen as one of the solutions to the poor skills and rampant corruption cases.