Atleast UGX311 Billion Covid-19 Funds Mismanaged – Auditor General

The Auditor General has revealed that there was financial indiscipline in the utilisation of shs311 billion disbursed to Ministries, Departments, Agencies (MDAs) and districts for Covid-19 interventions.

Section 25(1) of the Public Finance Management Act provides that government may approve a supplementary budget up to 3 per cent of appropriated budget but must seek retrospective approval from Parliament within four months.

On Thursday, March 11, 2021, Mr John Muwanga presented his new report to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga yesterday at Parliament and revealed that of Shs1.8 trillion spent by the government on undisclosed activities, only Shs615.8b was approved by Parliament.

According to the report, Government interventions towards the management of Covid-19 pandemic was shs4.36 trillion. The funds were raised from loans, donations and grants.

However, the Deputy Auditor General, Keto Nyapendi Kayemba says, the report focuses on funds totaling shs311 billion comprising of shs284 billion disbursed to the MDAs and districts, shs27 billion released from the Contingency Fund and the in-kind donations received by the various entities.

According to a summary of the findings, shs6.68 billion out of the shs284 billion that came directly from the Consolidated Fund was not utilised at the close of the financial year and returned to the Consolidated Fund.

“This affected the implementation of the planned activities. Contrary to the Secretary to Treasury’s guidance to bank the funds intact, shs850 million out of shs17.24 billion total cash donations were utilised at source in 56 entities. The balance was banked on designated accounts of the entities,” reads the report in part.

Muwanga added that a total of 25 entities undertook Covid-19 related procurements worth shs143.84 billion without fully adhering to the procurement rules and regulations.

Parliament also learnt that shs1.31 billion disbursed to 17 entities remained unaccounted for at the time of audit.

“I therefore, could not establish whether the funds were put to proper use. 94 out of 135 entities that received donations in kind did not undertake valuations contrary to the Treasury Instructions, 2017 while 69 entities did not record the donated items in the stores. This resulted into misstatement of financial statement balances,” said Muwanga.

Muwanga further notes that items valued at shs55.8 billion were distributed under the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) but lacked sufficient evidence of acknowledgement to enable him verify the recipients.

Muwanga advised government to initiate measures to raise preparedness for management of emergency situations.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said that Parliament did what it could to support government in the country’s Covid-19 response although in some instances the institution felt unsatisfied.

Some of the observed anomalies include irregular use of direct procurements, procurements without signed contracts, late delivery of goods, payment before receiving goods and failure to involve the contracts committee.

In the coming weeks, Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee will investigate Ministry of Finance officials on what the committee chairperson, Mr Nathan Nandala Mafabi (FDC, Bidadiri West) called “illegal expenditures”.

“It’s good that the AG highlighted these illegalities…they bypassed Parliament with impunity and spent public funds without authority,” Mr Mafabi said. The June 2019 highlights what MPs have called “wanton abuse” of the government commitment control systems and casts doubt on the implementation of the 2021 General Election roadmap.

“Activities critical to the roadmap that should have been implemented include, demarcation of electoral areas, re-organisation of polling stations, specialised training (ICT biometrics and due diligences of ICT procurement), voter education, acquisition of biometric voter verification system, developing election document management system, digitising election documents and setting up an election digital archive, among others.” Mr Muwanga’s report reads in part.

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