By Chris Kiwawulo
Documents for eight of the health and school facilities worth billions of shillings in Amolatar district are missing. This puts them at a risk of land grabbers.
A report by the Auditor General (AG) revealed that in the process of implementing government programmes, Amolatar chose to locate three health centres and five schools on land for which there is no documentary proof of ownership.
The primary schools are Aninolal, Namasale, Bangaladesh, Aburkidi and Awonangiro while the health centres include Amolatar Health Centre IV, Biko Health Centre II as well as Aputi Health Centre III.
Auditors failed to find title deeds, agreements or any other documents such as valuation reports that show the district owned the land on which the above facilities sit. This puts the facilities at risk of being grabbed by opportunists.
Management indicated that initiatives had been taken to survey the land and obtain the title deeds but were only delayed because the venture was costly.
Besides, a review of the assets’ register revealed that the district council owns a Toyota Land Cruiser Registration No.LG0029-57 acquired on October 20, 2010, but at the time of audit, there was no evidence of ownership in form of a logbook.
Unde the circumstances, the vehicle is exposed to a risk of theft. Whereas management indicated that the logbook was in place, it was not availed for verification,” the report pointed out.
John Muwanga, the AG also found gross financial irregularities and unaccounted for funds amounting to millions of shillings during the year 2010/11.
Auditors noted that a contract that was awarded to roof the district education office building in the financial year 2008/09 at sh67m was amended by sh15.9m in the subsequent financial year (representing an increase of 23.7% of the original contract).
However, there was no documentary proof of approval of the contracts’ committee, the AG and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority. This is contrary to regulations.
It was also observed that details of payments made on contract works and details of retained monies and penalties were not recorded in the contracts register as required by accounting regulations.
The AG recommended that the accounting officer takes personal responsibility for the anomaly.
Unaccounted for funds
A total of sh45.7m was expended in respect to various council activities during the financial year 2010/11, but payment vouchers lacked adequate accountability documents.
Whereas management indicated that the supporting documents were in place, they were not availed for verification and the AG recommended recovery of the monies.
Doubtful tax remittances
A total of sh10m in respect of withholding tax and Pay As You Earn remittances were not supported with official receipts and/or tax credit certificates from Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).
“It is probable that there was laxity on the part of management to make a follow-up with a view to securing the receipts from URA,” observed the AG. Whereas management in their response indicated that the receipts were available, there was no documentary proof to this effect.
A review of the approved budget estimates revealed that out of the approved budget of sh7.4b, only sh4.9b was received. This created a funding deficit of sh2.4b which adversely affected service delivery.
In Amolatar town council, out of the approved budget of sh89m, only sh81.5m was received, thereby creating a funding deficit of sh7.4m.
The AG noted that underfunding could possibly be due to the district’s failure to submit prepared work plans. He therefore advised management to liaise with the relevant ministries for improved funding and service delivery.
The town council has also had an outstanding debt of sh32m for the last two years and no effort has been made to settle the obligation. Also noted was the non-availability of individual creditors’ files.
“There is a risk that council may incur losses through penalties in the event that the creditors opted for litigation,” observed the AG.
Management in their response indicated that the debts relate to land compensations and that valuation forms were in place.
The Auditor General advised management to set aside funds in the budget to settle the obligations as well as adhere to the commitment control system.
The drug storage environment in Biko Health Centre II was not conducive as the store was dusty and drugs were strewn on the floor, which could accelerate the expiry of the drugs, the report revealed.
Management in response indicated that interventions, including the rehabilitation of the outpatient department, had been undertaken to arrest the situation at the centre.
At the time of inspection, the staff of Aputi Health Centre III were not found at the duty station and patients were left unattended to. One of the patients said staff report to duty at midday and leave before 5.00pm, leaving them stranded.
Management in their response indicated that the in-charge has absconded from duty and left junior staff who lacked direction and supervision.
The Auditor General tasked management to provide documentary proof of disciplinary action taken against the officer in charge, but did not.