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State House did not fail to account for sh13b

By Vision Reporter

Added 5th July 2009 03:00 AM

BY RICHARD MUHINDA

THIS is to express my displeasure with an article that appeared in the local press on July 2, titled, “State House Fails To Account For shs13 Billion.”

BY RICHARD MUHINDA

THIS is to express my displeasure with an article that appeared in the local press on July 2, titled, “State House Fails To Account For shs13 Billion.”

BY RICHARD MUHINDA

THIS is to express my displeasure with an article that appeared in the local press on July 2, titled, “State House Fails To Account For shs13 Billion.”

The use of the phrase, failure to account for funds, at least in Uganda public sector financial management, suggests that the responsible accounting officer has failed to obtain sufficient accountability to satisfy himself and the Auditor General that funds released by his vote were actually spent on activities for which they were intended.

A quick look at the Auditor General’s report for the year ended June 30, 2007 should reveal to any lay reader that the only unaccounted for funds (page 47, query 5.5 of that report) total sh8,887,400 advanced to an officer to carry out a research.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) directed me to recover this amount from the officer within 60 days and efforts are already underway to do so. The breakdown of your alleged unaccounted for sh13.4b includes presidential pledges amounting to sh5.3b (not fulfilled at the time of the audit), cumulative domestic arrears sh4.4b and sh2.9b in unpresented cheques at the close of the financial year under review (June 30, 2007).

While PAC is at liberty to seek further clarification on any aspect of financial management in a government department, the accounting officer of a vote cannot be expected to read the members’ minds in advance and carry all documents that are not
directly sought by the Auditor General’s queries.

It is totally misleading to its readers for any newspaper to interpret and report every additional request of PAC as a doubt on the accountability of funds.

In the past, when the Government used cheques as a mode of payment (currently, we use electronic fund transfer), it was not unusual for some cheques to remain unpresented by beneficiaries at year-end, especially if paid towards June 30. I do not understand how a
request by the committee that we adjust our list of unpresented cheques to include a column for the purpose of payment suddenly
renders sh2.9b unaccounted for. It is worth noting that these cheques were subsequently presented.

The same goes for domestic arrears and outstanding presidential pledges. PAC’s request for additional information relating to these areas should not be wrongly deemed to mean there are no support documents or accountability, but rather an effort by the committee to satisfy itself that the outstanding debts and pledges relate to verifiable obligations of the Government.

The remarks attributed to members of the accounts committee:

*“The MPs also accused the officials of conspiracy to abuse public funds after it emerged that cheques worth sh2.9b remained unpresented.”

*“We are talking about sh13.4b worth of public funds without any accountability from State House,” amount to gross misreporting
and unprofessional journalism. It is a deliberate slur to discredit the institution. We know that members of the Public Accounts Committee have been equally offended by the remarks attributed to them.

State House did not fail to account for sh13b

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