CAOs who return money to be punished, government says

Wednesday December 4 2019

Made threat. Mr Ben Kumumanya, the  Permanent

Made threat. Mr Ben Kumumanya, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government. FILE photo 

By KELVIN ATUHAIRE

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Mr Ben Kumumanya, has said Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) who will return budget money to the treasury next year will be penalised.
Speaking during a quarterly meeting for CAOs and municipal town clerks in Kampala yesterday, Mr Kumumanya said the money is meant for delivery of services and not for returning to the treasury.

He said management deems it a sign of incompetence for the officers not to spend money even when it has been released to the local governments by the Ministry of Finance to fund the approved budget priorities.
“You have been given money for the financial year, which starts July to June. If you reach June and you have not used it, then you have sabotaged certain services that were meant to use that money,” he said.

Mr Kumumanya added that the money given to the CAOs is sometimes for recruitment of certain professionals to deliver services to the public but then the people are never employed and also there are no services, which is a downside for the reason the money was intended for.
“We are trying to make it costly to those officers, we want to punish them such that they take the matter for recruitment seriously. This is money for recruiting a medical officer, you have money to recruit them, so if you don’t, you are denying people the services of a medical officer,” he added.

Why it is returned
Several reasons have been advanced by CAOs as to why they cannot utilise the money before June 30. The common reason given is the late release of quarterly funds by the Ministry of Finance
“Some of them are systemic issues, we are learning these system issues which are dynamic, before you master this one, another comes on board but I think before punishing us, it would be prudent that whoever is to punish us should look into circumstances that could have led to the returning of the money,” Mr Richard Wambi, the assistant Kotido CAO, said.

The Rukungiri Municipality town clerk, Mr Theophilus Tibihika, welcomed the idea of the ministry punishing them, saying it is the responsibility of the CAOs to ensure compliance and that all the processes are fulfilled in time.

“From what the Permanent Secretary said, those who return the money, punishing them is a good decision because we are supposed to perform in time and people need services….,” Mr Tibihika said.
“The money we return is wage related, money for roads construction is not returned. There are so many issues with payment for wages or pensions. For instance, when an officer retires, a new officer has to be recruited but the process of recruitment is lengthy. Even when you advertise, it is not easy to get people like engineers,” Ms Joyce Nambozo, Namayingo CAO, said.

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Background
Mandated. According to the Public Finance Management Regulations, the Ministry of Finance is mandated to recall all unspent balances back to the Treasury as mandated by the Financial and Accounting Regulations.

katuhaire@ug.nationmedia.com

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