By Cyprian Musoke
Despite the appalling conditions in which prisoners live, the prisons authorities failed to utilise sh2.4b free project funding to construct, renovate and expand facilities, MPs heard.
Appearing before the public accounts committee to answer queries in the Auditor General’s report for 2010/11, senior prisons officials admitted that they at the time lacked human capacity to absorb the money from the Justice Law and Order (JLOS) programme.
“An analysis of utilisation of the funds by the JLOS components revealed low absorption capacity of funds, with a closing balance of sh2.4b. Accounting officers were advised to ensure that adequate planning is undertaken in time to allow utilisation of funds on the planned activities,” the AG wrote.
In his response, the Prisons accounting officer, Simon Kimono, admitted that the money meant for the construction of Prison facilities countrywide, renovation and expansion of existing ones could not be absorbed within the financial year.
“Some releases were received one month to the closure of the financial year, making it impossible to spend all of them before the year ended. Final payments had to be made after completion of the projects, which meant closing the year with unutilised funds,” he said.
“Some of the beneficiary prisons included Bushenyi, Mbarara, Kiruhura, Rwimi and Namlu. Some of the construction and renovation has since started,” Kimono added.
But MPs wondered whether he contracted firms without giving them some advance payment, because by the close of the financial year in which the works started, the sh2.4b was still intact.
“How can you fail to absorb this money or even commit it by the end of the financial year?” asked committee chairman Kasiano Wadri.