Members of Parliament sitting on Parliament Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have queried the accumulated domestic arrears for Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital currently standing at 1.92 billion Shillings.
Members of Parliament on the Parliament Public Accounts Committee
(PAC) have queried the accumulated domestic arrears for Mbarara Regional
Referral Hospital standing at 1.92 billion shillings.
The MPs were interfacing with officials from the Hospital led by the Director
Dr Celestine Barigye in regard to audit queries raised by Auditor General John
Muwanga in his 2017/2018 financial year report.
The report highlighted accumulation of domestic arrears over a period of three
financial years with 539.5 million shillings arrears in the financial year
2015/2016, 1.99 billion in 2016/2017 and the 1.92 billion in the previous
financial year 2017/2018.
The arrears are categorized under trade creditors, sundry
creditors, electricity bills, pension and gratuity and salary arrears.
Auditor General said that the accumulated arrears pose a risk of litigation and
payment of penalties and fines for delayed settlement.
Responding to the query before the committee, Mbarara Hospital Director Dr
Celestine Barigye said that the arrears have been accumulating since 2007 but the
Finance Ministry had contracted an audit firm Ernest and Young to verify all
outstanding arrears with a view of releasing funds for payments.
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However, his response was countered by Kalungu West MP, Joseph Sewungu who
tabled the 2017 report by Ernest and Young in which out of the 1.9 billion
Shillings arrears, 933 million was contested, 447 million rejected and arrears
of 660 million shillings verified by Ernest and Young.
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Augustine Omongin, the Mbarara Hospital Accountant explained the rejected 447
million arrears by the auditors. He says that the rejection was on the basis of
submitted photocopied claims and that another file for 225 million arrears was
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Sewungu wondered how a file was not audited. Omongin said that all
files were submitted to Ernest and Young for auditing and that they have proof
of receipt of all files.
When he was tasked to avail the committee with proof of his statement,
Omongin noted he had not carried the receipt to the Committee saying that it
was an oversight.
Robert Kasule Sebunya, the Nansana Municipality MP demanded that Mbarara
Hospital avails that committee with a checklist of all the arrears and evidence
showing that all files were audited.
PAC Vice Chairperson Okin P.P Ojara said that the arrears were becoming
unsustainable noting that because of this situation; the Secretary to Treasury
Keith Muhakanizi was forced to call in independent auditors to ascertain the
accuracy of the domestic arrears as claimed by government entities.
Alleging that many entities swindle public funds through filing exaggerated
domestic arrears, Ojara directed that Mbarara Hospital avails the committee
with all details concerning the accumulated domestic arrears before the audit
query is dropped.