CAOs: Why we can't account for pension

Tuesday August 13 2019

Seeking clearance. Some of the pensioners at a

Seeking clearance. Some of the pensioners at a verification exercise in Masaka District in 2016. PHOTO BY ALI MAMBULE 

By PATIENCE AHIMBISIBWE

Chief administrative officers (CAO) in districts yesterday explained the delays in accounting for pension funds, citing various challenges.

The accounting officers said it is difficult to find the beneficiaries to sign accountability documents and present photocopies of their national identity cards for confirmation that rightful pensioners have received the funds as required by Ministry of Finance.

The explanation comes a week after Mr Keith Muhakanizi, the Finance Permanent Secretary, issued a statement which showed that 72 per cent of ministries and government agencies, which received pension and gratuity funds for 2018/19 financial year, had not accounted for it.

According to the statement, a total of Shs26.9b was released, but only Shs7.5b was accounted for.
Mr Dunstan Balaba, the chairperson of Association of Local Government Administrative Officers of Uganda, yesterday said money for pension is not deposited on districts’ accounts but to individual beneficiaries from Bank of Uganda.

“After somebody has got his Shs60m, getting them to come back and sign is very difficult. We pay the pensioners directly. The money is from Bank of Uganda directly to the account of the recipient.

“We don’t have commercial banks where we deposit the money. Our biggest problem is that you must get the signatures of the recipient of the money and photocopy of their national identity cards to present as proof that they were paid,” Mr Balaba, who is also the Tororo District CAO, said.

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He said their role is to verify and submit names of beneficiaries to Finance ministry which then validates the names before sending them back to their respective districts before the Integrated Financial Management System is activated for Bank of Uganda to pay.

Mr Balaba acknowledged that they have not informed Finance about the challenges they face to access the beneficiaries once they have received their money.
He said some CAOs have incur some extra expenses to search of pensioners while in other instances, they have to put radio adverts.

Mr Nathan Ahimbisibwe, the Ibanda CAO, said he had paid the three pensioners under his district, accounting for Shs36.2m and wondered why his department was listed by Finance among those which failed to account for the money.

But Mr Balaba said there are also instances where accounting officers do not submit their details to Finance which might be difficult for them to prove.
In other districts, officers who preferred anonymity to freely express themselves, accused Finance officials of inefficiency, saying in some occasions, they have presented their accountabilities only to be shown as having not accounted for the money.

“You can give Finance a document and they stamp it today but after a week, you will see your name on the list of those who have failed to cooperate. It happened last year. We are used to it...Their action tarnishes people’s reputation. It feels very bad and instead of quarreling with them, we keep quiet. The boss is always right,” the source said.

Last week, Mr Muhakanizi said his office had received allegations that some officers were soliciting for bribes from pensioners.

In a separate interview, he promised to give feedback after two weeks on what action he will take on officers who will not have accounted for the funds then.

Process to get pension
-CAOs get names of beneficiaries which they submit to Ministry of Finance
-Finance sends back the approved list of beneficiaries to districts
-Districts proceeds the Integrated Financial Management System which is linked to Bank of Uganda
-Bank of Uganda then deposits money to individual pensioner’s account

-CAOs are notified from the Integrated Financial Management System that money has been paid for the various officers under their locus
-Pensioners are then expected to report to their respective CAOs’ offices to sign the accountability sheet from Finance called Integrated Personnel and Pay System and submit their copies of national IDs which are then taken to Finance as proof that money went to the rightful owners.

pahimbisibwe@ug.nationmedia.com

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