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Public Service Pinned Over UGX 23B Payment to 'Ghost' Pensioners

Parliaments Public Accounts Committee PAC has today learnt that a total of 23 billion Shillings was paid to ghost pensioners by the public service ministry. The 2014 and 2015 Auditor Generals reports indicate monthly pension payments of 12.7 billion and 11 billion Shillings respectively to ghost pensioners since the ministry had not been furnished with their life certificates.
Ministry of Public Service Permanent Secretary Catherine Musingwire appearing before PAC together with the former acting PS Adah Muwanga.

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Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has today learnt that a total of 23 billion Shillings was paid to ghost pensioners by the public service ministry.

                    

The 2014 and 2015 Auditor General's reports indicate monthly pension payments of 12.7 billion and 11 billion Shillings respectively to ghost pensioners since the ministry had not been furnished with their life certificates.

Today officials from the public service ministry led by Permanent Secretary Catherine Musingwire and the Human Resource Manager Adah Muwanga appeared before PAC to respond to the audit queries.

Section 18 (1) of the Pensions Act, Cap 286, provides that every pension or other allowance granted should cease upon the death of the person to whom it is granted.

It is provided that a pension granted be payable for a period not exceeding 15 years from the date of retirement of the deceased pensioner. After the expiry of the 15 year pensionable period, the law requires all pensioners to furnish the Public Service Ministry with annual Life Certificates as proof that they are still alive.

However, in his 2014 audit query, Auditor General John Muwanga says that a total of 19,135 pensioners who had attained the maximum pensionable period of 15 years were still on the public service ministry payroll and earning monthly pension.

The auditor general noted a total of 12.7 billion Shillings paid out in respect of the monthly pensions during the financial year ending June 2014 could not be justified in the absence of life certificates.

He further noted another 11 billion Shillings paid by the ministry in 2015 to pensioners beyond the pensionable period.

Muwanga said that absence of evidence of continued existence of pensioners in form of life certificates to support pension payments may imply payments to non-existent pensioners.

PAC Chairperson, Soroti Woman MP Angelline Osegge, questioned the public service ministry officials why they went ahead to pay pensioners without evidence of them being alive or dead.

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Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga questioned how the ministry could continue to pay pensioners in doubt and leave out those who continuously visit the ministry offices over their delayed payment.

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Adah Muwanga, the former acting permanent secretary in the ministry, told the committee that the respective life certificates are available to justify the amounts paid out. However Kassiano Oketcha, a senior principal auditor in the Office of the Auditor General noted that these were not availed to him for verification at the time of audit.

Adah Muwanga further noted that the current decentralisation of Pension and Gratuity payments is expected to address issues of pension payroll cleaning, where by accounting officers verify the payroll of their respective votes before effecting payments.

MP Osegge directed the ministry to avail the payment schedules for the last two years before her committee comes up with a recommendation to parliament.