By John Masaba and John Semakula
Two ministries are bickering over the delayed payment of this month’s pensioners’ benefits.
The Ministry of Public Service accuses the Ministry of Finance of delaying the payment of the pensioners’ benefits without a substantial reason.
The ministry of finance announced last week that it had suspended payments of gratuity and pension fund until police concludes its investigations into the alleged fraud in the payment of sh63b to 1,018 ghost pensioners by public service officials in 2011.
But Jonas Tumwine, the public service spokesperson, told New Vision that the Ministry of Finance had no reason to suspend the benefits.
“There is no need to clean up the pensioner’s payroll. As far as I know, the payroll is clean,” Tumwine said.
He added that Public Services had ensued that the payroll was clean before clearing the payments for the month of October.
“We sent a list of 53,800 bona fide pensioners this month to be paid by the Ministry of Finance. The payroll was clean and we expect the ministry to act swiftly because these people need their money.”
Tumwine said 90% of the pensioners were sick and depended only on their monthly benefits to meet the medical costs.
Pensioners receive their payments on the 15th of every month.
“The people, who are causing the unnecessary delays, are those who do not know the pain pensioners are experiencing.
“Pensioners are troubling us with calls every day, asking why their money is not in their accounts. Others are coming to our offices, but we have no answers,” he added.
Tumwine advised the Ministry of Finance to instruct Police to arrest every ghost pensioner who turns up to pick money in the banks.
Efforts to talk to Keith Muhakanizi, the deputy Secretary to the treasury in the Finance ministry were futile. He said he was busy in Parliament.
But last week, Muhakanizi announced the halting of the payments for pensioners’ October benefits.
He said the finance ministry was involved in cleaning up the payroll, an exercise that would not be complete until the 30th of this month.
The Ministry of Public Service was recently hit by a scandal regarding the creation of ghost pensioners. Several of its officials have been arrested and are still undergoing investigations.