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PAC Questions UGX 1.9bn Mbarara Hospital Domestic Arrears

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.
11 Jun 2019 16:54
Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital Director, Dr. Celestine Barigye appearing before PAC together with other officials.

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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 not audited. 

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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.

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