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Mbarara Hospital Director Handed Over to CID Over Audit Query

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Barigye together with Mbarara Hospital Accountant, Augustine Omongin and other officials are in the hands of CID officers at parliament explaining why the hospital management irregularly spent the money in the 2017/2018 financial year without approval from the Accountant General.
11 Jun 2019 16:20
Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital Director, Dr. Celestine Barigye and other officials appearing before the Public Accounts Committee.

Audio 7

The Public Accounts Committee-PAC of parliament has handed over Dr. Celestine Barigye, the Director Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) for questioning in connection to the expenditure of Shillings 733 million Non-Tax Revenue-NTR at source.

Barigye together with Mbarara Hospital Accountant, Augustine Omongin and other officials are in the hands of CID officers at parliament explaining why the hospital management irregularly spent the money in the 2017/2018 financial year without approval from the Accountant General.  

The officials were appearing before the Public Accounts Committee-PAC Central Government chaired by the Vice Chairperson Okin P.P Ojara to respond to audit queries raised in the 2017/2018 financial year report. 

According to Section 26 (2) of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) 2015, Accounting Officers are required to transfer all collected revenue to the Consolidated Fund and where there is need to spend the money at source, they are required to seek authorization from the Accountant General.

Contrary to this provision, according to Auditor General, John Muwanga, Mbarara Hospital officials collected Shillings 1.03 billion as NTR but only remitted Shillings 306 .3 million to the Consolidated Fund and spent Shillings 733.6 million at source.

He noted that spending at source could lead to diversion of funds. The PFMA under Section 79 states that a person commits an offence if without lawful authority spends public funds. It provides a penalty on conviction of a fine not exceeding 500 currency points or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 4 years or both. 

Tasked by PAC to explain the irregular spending of revenue at source without the required approval, Dr. Barigye noted that the hospital had to ensure that emergencies were responded to at the time especially the Rift Valley Fever and the Crimean Congo Fever that broke out with many cases received and treated outside the budget.   

He also noted that there was need to pay contract staff their salaries and incentives for other staff involved in the generation of the revenue.

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Dr. Barigye’s response sparked off questions from legislators. The Tororo South MP, Fredrick Angura tasked him to address his response to provisions under the law.  But Barigye insisted that he couldn’t avoid addressing the emergencies at hand.

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Robert Kasule Sebunya, the Nansana Municipality MP and Sheema Woman MP, Jacklet Rwabukurukuru Atuhaire questioned whether Mbarara Hospital wrote to the Accountant General or the Health Ministry Permanent Secretary regarding the expenditure.

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Joseph Sewungu, the Kalungu West MP pinned the Mbarara Hospital Director for usurping the powers of the Accountant General warning that the committee was to recommend that he is not appointed an accounting officer again.

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The Mbarara Hospital Accountant, Augustine Omongin confirmed that the money was spent at source due to financial pressures.

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The PAC Vice Chairperson, Okin P.P Ojara ruled that Dr. Barigye is handed over to the Parliament CID to make further statement on the matter and also provide all information regarding the expenditure 733 million Shillings that was collected in revenue.

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Before being led to the CID office, Dr. Barigye apologized for the irregular expenditure, saying it will never happen again.

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