What you need to know:
- While receiving the report from the Auditor General, Mr John Muwanga, on Thursday, Speaker Anita Among intimated that the contents of the report were factual and reflective of the situation in the country.
The Auditor General (AG) report has unearthed a plethora of glaring irregularities littered in various government ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) spread across the country.
The latest findings contained in an audit that was done on government entities in Financial Year 2021/2022 show that the government has several conduits through which taxpayers’ money is lost to corruption, ghost staff and diversions, among others.
While receiving the report from the Auditor General, Mr John Muwanga, on Thursday, Speaker Anita Among intimated that the contents of the report were factual and reflective of the situation in the country.
“When you hear what was being highlighted, it is reality,” Ms Among said before issuing strict instructions to Mr Muwanga demanding that all entities should be audited without bias, including the Legislative arm.
“The value for money audit, kindly put a lot of emphasis on it. Even if you see us as Parliament not working, come and do a value for money audit of us,” Ms Among told Mr Muwanga.
The Ntoroko County MP and a member of the parliamentary Committee on Local Government, Mr Gerald Ibanda Rwemulikya said the government needs to outline realistic plans and projects instead of doing budgets that result in regretful expenditures and give room for corruption to grow.
“Ministries and local governments should be honest by telling people that this is what we are able to do in this year rather than telling people unrealistic projects which eventually become a problem,” Mr Ibanda said.
He was also disturbed by the persistent diversion of funds by government entities which eventually led to corruption.
“Those are the areas that breed corruption and embezzlement,” he said, adding, “Accounting officers that were found to have diverted money with approval of Parliament should be strictly reprimanded.”
The report contains highlights in the 2022 year audit that covered 420 financial audits, five thematic audits, three information technology audits, 15 value for money audits and 103 engineering projects.
The year under review saw Mr Muwanga audit the financial statements of 186 ministries, departments and agencies, 83 statutory corporations and 151 local governments.
In 2021/2022, lawmakers appropriated a budget of Shs44.779 trillion but supplementary approvals of Shs6.784 trillion pushed the total it to Shs51.56 trillion.
“Warrants totaling to Shs48.854 trillion were issued to different bites and an amount of Shs44.421 trillion was spent leading to an underutilisation of Shs4.433 trillion. This was attributed to: insufficient funds on consolidated fund account, cancelled invoices, unimplemented activities by MDAs and Lags as well as late releases among others,” the report reads in part.
Government is also faulted for pursuing and realising money through supplementary budgets which were not required since the approved funds were enough.
“Shs44.421 trillion was spent against warrants of Shs48.854 indicating unutilised warrants of Shs4.433 trillion. Overall, since the initial budget was Shs44.421 trillion, this implies that there was no need for a supplementary budget since the original resource envelope was not fully realised,” the report reads in part.
It was also revealed that Shs1 billion was paid to 795 dead or absconded beneficiaries for at least 16 months because controllers of the system delayed erasing the names of the deceased persons from the payment system.
Government lost Shs19 billion to 609 ineligible primary and secondary teachers in 129 local governments. It was discovered that these used forged signatures to access the payroll with the majority approaching their retirement age.
Relatedly, Shs3.5 billion was paid to 26 staff in local governments using forged salary scales contrary to those catered for in the salary structure. There was also Shs24.9 billion underpayment of pensioners in 115 local governments. While 1,019 pensioners in 65 districts did not access their pensions for a year.
An illegal deduction of Shs20.7 billion was effected on 15,002 staff in 44 local governments because this was done without formal approval from the requisite authorities.
As of June 30, 2022, Uganda’s public debt stood at 86.6 trillion, Shs38.1 trillion being domestic debt while external debt was Shs48.5 trillion. This means there was Shs11.5 trillion from the previous time of reporting translating into 16.31 percent.
“This is an increase of Shs11.5 trillion equivalent to 12.5 percent when compared to the debt stock of Shs75.1 trillion reported as of June 30, 2021,” the report states in part.
It adds: “There has been a consistent increase in the total debt as evidenced by an increase of 109 percent in the five years from 2017/2018 (Shs41.4 trillion) to Shs86.6 trillion as of June 30, 2022.”
Mr Muwanga’s report recommended that “government should prudently project and manage the funding mix as well as review its priorities to avoid escalation of debt beyond a sustainable level”.
Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) is faulted for having failed to collect Shs340 billion from the country’s gold exports valued at Shs6.962 trillion in the audited year.
URA attributed the non-collection to the minister’s statutory guidance of staying the implementation of the five percent export levy.
According to the report, “there was no documented step-wise processes on how the importation and exportation of precious minerals should be handled by the customs officials”.
The report further states: “The processes are not embedded in the customs business compendium despite precious minerals being of high value.
The National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA) was found to be at fault for having failed to deliver on a large part of its mandate. For instance, the report revealed that NIRA caused the government a loss of $14.780 million in form revenue that was supposed to be collected from 147,800 foreigners in the four years preceding the year that ended June 2021.
On the irregularities regarding the Parish Development Model (PDM), Speaker Among said: “I think we need to be more strict in issues of PDM. The right people should be able to get the money. The right Saccos should be able to get the money, not the ghost saccos.”
She added: “They must have an operating system that is going to help them track this kind of performance. Of course we need the database. At the end of the day you are going to give somebody who is from across the world money and think the money is yours.”
She further said: “This is very important money for us as Ugandans and it will help the local population get out of poverty. It can only be of help once we use the right process to disburse the money. As the Auditor General I need you to be very strict with the operationalisation of PDM.
A total of Shs29.5 billion was wired to 3,214 non-existent PDM Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations (Saccos). It was established that the Shs79.2 billion wired to 8,703 Saccos as revolving funds remained idle on Sacco bank accounts.
Similarly, the registration of beneficiaries exercise was also littered with irregularities. For instance, in Butaleja, 15 of the 39 parish chiefs recruited had forged academic documents.
It was also found that PDM funds totalling Shs594 million for five local governments were released and spent without the requisite documentation approving the release.