MUST bosses questioned over ‘doctored’ accounts

By Mary Karugaba

MPs discovered that the same item had three different figures within the same accounts

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Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) bosses were yesterday accused of ‘doctoring’ figures in their books of accounts after they failed to explain why different figures were presented and yet the accounts still balanced.

Trouble started when the university officials led by the university secretary, Melchoir Byaruhanga, were asked to explain the different figures in the accounts especially payables.

For example, upon scrutiny, the MPs discovered that the university recorded three different figures as payment for domestic arrears in the financial year 2017/18 and did not record some of the monies that were not returned to the Consolidated Fund account.

While examining the balance sheet, the MPs discovered that the same item had three different figures within the same accounts. It was first was recorded as sh550m, then again sh551m and then sh549m

“There are three different figures in the accounts for the same item. Which one should we take as domestic arrears? How did the accounts balance with such inconsistencies? These are doctored figures,” Public Accounts Committee chairperson Budadiri West MP Nandala Mafabi asked.

When the MPs bombarded the officials with more questions on the accounts, the university bursar, Dominic Musana, looked on in silence.

This prompted Mafabi to request the clerk to the committee to pass him a bottle of water, which he received, opened and seeped on much to the amusement of members.

After, Musana requested for more time, referring to the inconsistencies as “errors”.

“Some of these are errors but I have noted the inconsistencies. They will be checked and verified,” he said.

This prompted MP Anita Among (Bukedea) to inquire whether the accounts were approved by the internal auditors and then by the University Council.

“How did the University Council approve such accounts with all these errors?  Did the internal auditors raise these issues?” Among asked.

Byaruhanga said he signed the accounts with the help of the technical team but did not present them to the council.

The officials were appearing before the committee to answer queries raised by the Auditor General John Muwanga in a report to Parliament for the financial year 2017/18.

In the report, Muwanga noted that the university failed to utilise sh2.9b released for capital development and was returned to the Consolidated Fund accounts.

He also revealed that out of 23 research projects with a total balance sh834m, only 17 projects were disclosed for auditing. These projects are financed through grants but the auditors noted that the university was transferring money from one project to another, inadequately supported expenditure, different materials submitted to the donors and government.

Byaruhanga explained that the university failed to utilise the money because the project went through procurement challenges and later court processes which affected its timely execution.

MP Innocent Oula (UPDF) complained that the university is facing challenges with teachers and students because of poor accountability.

“These people are confirming what is happening at the university and why there is a strike currently. Unfortunately, it is the parents and the students that are suffering,” he said.