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Mukono councillors overpay themselves by sh180m

By Vision Reporter

Added 16th January 2008 03:00 AM

THE Auditor General (AG) has queried the Mukono Chief Administration Officer(CAO) over payment of an extra sh182.2m in emoluments of the council. Districts are, by law, mandated to use only 20% of the local revenue collections in payment of emoluments.

THE Auditor General (AG) has queried the Mukono Chief Administration Officer(CAO) over payment of an extra sh182.2m in emoluments of the council. Districts are, by law, mandated to use only 20% of the local revenue collections in payment of emoluments.

By Joel Ogwang

THE Auditor General (AG) has queried the Mukono Chief Administration Officer(CAO) over payment of an extra sh182.2m in emoluments of the council. Districts are, by law, mandated to use only 20% of the local revenue collections in payment of emoluments.

However, while Mukono. realised sh562.7m in the 2001/02 fiscal years. Sh294.7m (almost 50%) was spent on the councillors’ emoluments.

In his 2002/3 fiscal year report, the AG, John Muwanga, notes that there was no documented evidence to prove that permission to pay the extra fee was sought from the local government ministry.

“The accounting officer (CAO) is hereby held responsible for flouting financial regulations,” says Muwanga.

In the report, Muwanga notes that a total of sh230m paid in advances and imprests could also not be traced in the ledgers.

Verifications of the transactions in the ledgers and other source documents revealed names which appear in the financial statements but do not appear in the advances ledger.

Supporting documents like advance vouchers were not availed for verification.

It is also notes that the majority of the advances relate to previous financial years while 247 accounts were found dormant. “Therefore, recovery of the advances appears remote,” Muwanga says.

Deposits amounted to sh61.5m, including sh10.7m in taxes. However, a tax audit by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) came up with a tax liability of sh726.7m.

No mention of this liabilitywas made and no explanation was given. As if that was not enough, sh10.6m due to the National Social Security Fund was not remitted.

Whilst the district’s overall performance was 80%, local revenue collection was a paltry 32%. This dismal performance does not only lead to unfulfilled programmes, but also undermines the decentralisation policy.

This relates to the unfinished structure of the proposed district headquarters. “Whereas huge amounts of money were spent on the structure and a lot more is still outstanding, the chances of completing the building appear remote,” Muwanga says.

A satisfactory explanation was not given, so poor planning and incompetence could not be ruled out.

Expenditure incurred over and above provisions or estimates amounted to sh517.6m. However, reallocation warrants allowing the expenditure to stand in the accounts of the district for the year under review were not produced for audit, rendering the expenditure illegal.

Supporting documents for sh73.2m expenditure were missing in the course of the audit, making it potentially fraudulent.

A total of sh9.2m was paid to various unnamed individuals and other institutions as legal costs. However, no explanation was given as to how the legal suits arose. This awakened suspicions of breach of contract, negligence and incompetence by the district council officials.

The district also operated 101 bank accounts in Mukono, Kampala and Jinja.

At least 28 were found dormant and should have been closed at the end of the preceding year. Mukono failed to account for sh33.5m paid to the district chairman for fuel and other council officials. Office imprests totaling sh2.4m were not retired contrary to regulations, while user fees derived from Kawolo Hospital’s private wing were not accounted for.

Mukono also failed to constitute a budget committee for allocating funds.

The Public Accounts Commitee’s position

Patrick Luganda, the Mukono Public Accounts’ Committee (PAC) chief, says all tax payers’ money must be accounted for.

“There is no room for impunity,” he says. “No one will escape. We (PAC) will ensure that all funds are spent on what they are intended for.”

Luganda says Mukono has for long been robbed by people who steal funds but walk scot-free. “The time is up for them.’

Responses
George Gakwandi, the CAO, says the query over the extra sh182.2m paid in emoluments arose because the district council exceeded the 20% threshold on allowances and emoluments.

“Measures have been put in place to ensure that the expenditure is within 20% of the revenue raised and retained by the council,” he says.

The query about sh230.8m spent on advances and imprests arose because some names on the advancees appeared in the schedules and not in the advance ledgers. As a corrective measure, a salary earners’ bank loan scheme has been introduced.

“Where salary advances are extended to officers, the finance department ensures that they are recovered within the financial year,” Gakwandi says.

Under the fiscal decentralisation strategy, only 13 accounts are authorised to be operated by districts with respect to the central government funds and local revenues.

“Mukono is now operating the mandatory 13 accounts and other donor fund bank accounts totaling to 28,” Gakwandi says.

During the 2004/05 fiscal year, the tax liability that was agreed upon was fully settled. NSSF deposits were dropped by the auditor because he established they did not reflect what is on the ground.

The query on the sh33.5m incurred in fuel consumption arose because there were no documents to account for the fuel consumed by the district chairman. Gakwandi says action was taken and all fuel statements were availed for verification.

At the time of audit, there was no sufficient explanation about how the sh9.2m paid in legal costs and individuals was incurred.

The district is looking for a law firm which can provide legal services to the district ‘on a call’ basis, the CAO says.

About the sh73.3m incurred in incompletely vouched expenditure, Gakwandi documents were availed and duly verified by the auditor,”.

He adds that Kawolo hospital private wing now has an accounts assistant responsible for maintaining financial records.

Gakwandi says the deduction of sh3.8m in taxes unremitted to URA cannot be effected because Kawolo Hospital is exempted by URA. Sh2.4m incurred on unretired imprests had not been retired at the time of audit, but have been fully closed using ‘no cheque’ payment vouchers.

Mukono councillors overpay themselves by sh180m

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