THE Minister of State for Local Government, Alex Onzima has said the CAOs and acting CAOs who have been dropped should be given opportunity to defend themselves.
By Joyce Namutebi
THE Minister of State for Local Government, Alex Onzima has said the Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) and acting CAOs who have been dropped as accounting officers should be given opportunity to defend themselves against allegations leveled against them.
“If it is proven that they did what they did, then the law catches up with them,” Onzima said yesterday.
The Permanent Secretary/Secretary to Treasury (PS/ST), Keith Muhakanzi has dropped 61 accounting officers for the next financial year over accountability.
The effected include 37 Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) and acting CAOs, accounting officers for five municipal councils and 17 accounting officers of Uganda’s missions abroad.
Reacting to the developments, Onzima said, “This is a collective responsibility. On our part as government, my view is that political and technical officials of the ministry of local government and finance have to sit together, establish facts and chart a way forward.”
Quoting the law of natural justice, he said that the affected officers should be given opportunity to give their side of the story and a conclusion made.
Sources said that the ST forwarded to Clerk of Parliament lists containing names of designated accounting officers of government ministries and agencies, foreign missions and local governments and those he has dropped.
“The lists have been forwarded to Parliament for approval,” sources said.
The Public Finance Management Act, 2015 mandates the ST to appoint or designate accounting officers every year, but bars him from appointing or designating an accounting officer where, according to the report of an Internal Auditor General or the Auditor-General, that person has not accounted for the public resources or assets of the vote for a financial year.
Onzima advised CAOs to work as a team with political officers, and other people below them for harmonious relationship.
Ministry of finance, Planning and Economic Development spokesperson, Jim Mugunga stressed that the mandate to designate accounting officers lies with ST.
He said the ST has consistently warned that accounting officers who do not implement the reforms that are aimed at assuring accountability and service delivery would face sanctions.
In the recent budget speech finance minister, Matia Kasaija announced measures to enhance the effectiveness of public service delivery including strictly monitoring and enforcing performance contracts, and administering strong sanctions to accounting officers who fail to adhere to set guidelines.
“Specifically, going forward, renewal of appointment for Permanent Secretaries, Chief Administrative Officers, Heads of Government Departments and all Accounting Officers will take into account a proven track record of sound implementation of Government programmes/projects and after a stringent vetting process,” he said.
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