The observation was made during a meeting on Thursday between the committee and officials from the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) as part of an inquiry into queries raised by the Office of the Auditor-General, regarding expenses made during the financial year 2020/2021.
The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament has observed that government institutions are using the COVID-19
pandemic to justify the mismanagement of public funds.
The observation was made during a meeting on Thursday between the committee and officials
from the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) as part of an inquiry into queries raised by the Office of the Auditor-General, regarding expenses made during the financial year 2020/2021.
According to the Auditor General, UVRI charged wrong expenditure codes to a tune of 53.3 million
Shillings during the financial year under review. In the Query, the Auditor General noted that such unauthorized reallocation undermines the importance of the budgeting
process as well as the intentions of the appropriating authority.
But Julius Lutwama, the Deputy Director of the Uganda Virus Research Institute said that the agency used the money to procure
COVID-19 test kits at a time when the country was handling the pandemic as an emergency situation. He however added that although they made several requests to the Ministry
of Health for funding, they did not make a request with respect to the funds under question.
//Cue in; “we do not have…
Cue out…is not true.”//
While MPs encouraged Lutwama to own up to the mistake, the Vice-Chairperson of the
Committee Asuman Basalirwa dismissed the explanation and observed that this argument keeps coming up as an excuse by different government entities for mismanaging funds appropriated by Parliament.
//Cue in; “you see, in…
Cue out…fraud, we know.”//
Basalirwa emphasized that Covid-19 cannot be used as
an excuse for breaching the law.
//Cue in; “don’t use Covid…
Cue out…have no shortcut.”//
The committee directed the UVRI officials to avail
documents indicating how the queried funds were spent and the activities that
were affected by the diversion of funds.