MPs summon PS Atwine over Mulago hospital books of accounts

Acting Executive Director Mulago Hospital, Dr Rosemary Byanyima, interacts with Rukungiri Municipality MP, Dr Elisa Rutahigwa, after appearing before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament on March 16, 2022. PHOTO | DAVID LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Dr Byanyima also revealed that the hospital has halted all payments due to lack of access to documents and the computerized accounting system.

Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has summoned the Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, Dr Diana Atwine, together with officials from the State House Health Monitoring Unit, on matters regarding Mulago National Referral Hospital books of accounts.

The directive was made by the committee chairperson, Mr Medard Sseggona (Busiro East County MP) during a meeting with the hospital’s Acting Executive Director, Dr Rosemary Byanyima.

Dr Byanyima, who had appeared to answer queries in the Auditor General’s report for the Financial Year 2020/21, told MPs that she could not provide responses to the audit queries since she has not yet received access to the hospital computerized accounting system- the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) after the interdiction of Dr Baterana Byarugaba.

Dr Baterana was interdicted earlier this month, following his arrest by the State House Health Monitoring Unit on allegations of abuse of office, embezzlement, causing financial loss and fraudulent false accounting.

“I was part of management at Mulago National Referral hospital as Deputy Executive Director but my docket was supervision of clinical services and I don’t have access to some of these documents. Therefore, the absence of the technocrats in that docket as well as the Accounting Officer, makes me as the Acting Executive Director unable to respond now,” Dr Byanyima told MPs.

Dr Byanyima also revealed that the hospital has halted all payments due to lack of access to documents and the computerized accounting system, but assured the committee that all is being done to fast-track the process to gain access control.

“As the head of the institution I have already told my people that we must work with this committee so that we deliver services. The hospital is not closed, and we are working. As I talk, we are running an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgical camp where we are planning to operate on over 100 patients. This is the third day running,” she added.

Part of the queries highlighted by Auditor General, Mr John Muwanga, is the non-recognition of transfers received by Mulago Hospital from other government units worth Shs3.86 billion.

“I noted that transfers of Shs 3.86 billion that were received from the Ministry of Health were not recognized in the State of Financial Performance. The receipts were also not reported to the Financial Statements. It was further noted that the funds which were received on the hospital’s Infrastructure Development Account were transfers from Ministry of Health meant for intern allowances,” the Auditor General’s report reads in part.

The audit report also queried payments for non-existent liabilities amounting to Shs 1.47 billion, misstated transfers to the Treasury during the year by Shs 1.29 billion in the financial statements, absence of a strategic plan approved by the National Planning Authority (NPA), expenditure of Shs 474.4 million on refurbishment of the MRI machine that was delivered and installed in 2018 and has since never been put to use and others.

Mr Sseggona cited Article 163 of the Constitution, saying that they are required to deliver a report six months from the date when the Auditor General’s office submits.

The audit report in question was received by Parliament on February 03, 2022. He, therefore, said that a delay in substantive appointment would not only slow services in the hospital, but also affect the accountability mandate of Parliament.

The legislators tasked Dr Byanyima to forward all the committee letters and the audit report to the interdicted Accounting Officer [Dr Baterana] and inform him that he is required to answer some queries before the committee.

“Give all manner of assistance to Dr Baterana Byarugaba to help you come up with responses to the auditor general’s queries,” Mr Ssegona said.

The officials were then granted a period of one month in which they would return to the committee with responses to the audit queries.