By Paul Kiwuuwa
PARLIAMENT, Kampala - Ministry of Information Communication Technology (ICT) officials have failed to account for sh3.5bn, MPs have learnt.
According to the Auditor General report of 2010-2011, the funds which lacked accountability were spent on various items, ultimately causing a massive loss to the tax-payer’s money.
MPS on Parliament’s Public Accounts committee (PAC) first, tasked the ICT ministry Permanent Secretary, Dr. Jimmy Saamanya to explain why he authorized payment of sh750m for renting office premises on Social Security House, Jinja road in 2010, which they did not occupy.
According to the AG’ report, sh750m was paid for rental premises for the 12 months running from August 2010 to August 2011.
But the ministry used the rented space after six months had passed, the report shows.
“Why did you hurry to pay for the rent which the ministry never used for six months,” committee chairperson Paul Mwiru (Jinja municipality) demanded.
Through its lead counsel Vincent Kyamadidi (Rwampara county), the committee watered down Samanya’ response that the ministry delayed to occupy the offices because it had not yet procured office furniture for use yet the rent had been paid.
The AG report also queried sh60m found on the ICT ministry’s account, but was not remitted to the consolidated fund.
“If the money was not utilized by the ministry, why did you delay to remit it to the consolidated fund?” Kyamadidi pressed on.
The report further queried sh24m deducted from the workers, but also was not remitted to National Social Security Fund (NSSF) as the law requires.
Citing Article 164 of the Constitution, failure to remit the said money to NSSF is an offence.
“The committee recommends that the salaries of the officers who failed to remit the money to NSSF, should be attached to pay the workers’ money in NSSF,” Alice Alaso (Serere) proclaimed.
But the ICT PS, Saamanya told the committee that he was not aware of the query, upon which the MPs told him that in his capacity as the accounting officer, he should have remitted the funds.
The MPs also queried sh78m paid for electricity bills, but lacked receipts.
“We suspect fraud in this transaction. You don’t have power bills, why do you pay for electricity which the ministry never consumed “Alex Byarugaba (Isingiro South) asked.
It was revealed that sh 51m allowances paid to ministry staff lacked signatures showing accountability. The money was paid to the workers when Uganda hosted the African Union Summit in 2010.
The MPs were clearly angered when Saamanya produced a list of all ministry workers, but lacked signatures of the receipts.
When he requested for some time to bring the signed list of workers, the MPs refused, arguing that if they gave him more time, he [Saamanya] would forge the signatures.
“This is organized crime where people are swindling public funds. Three years have passed and you’ve failed to account for the money. We can’t give you more time.” Mwiru declared.