- Updated by Faith Barbara Namagembe at 1631 EAT on 30th June 2022.
The parliamentary public accounts committee – central government on Wednesday turned away officials from Lira Regional Referral hospital for failure to provide accountability documents.
The officials led by the hospital director, Dr. J.S.O Obbo appeared before the committee for the second time to respond to audit queries in the auditor general’s report for the financial year 2020/2021.
However, they did not have the required documents to support responses to the audit queries. The documents required by the committee are the final accounts, audited project accounts including the financial statements, and other relevant documents supporting audit responses.
The absence of these key documents prompted PAC vice-chairperson, Asuman Basalirwa to adjourn the meeting to today Thursday. He directed the officials to produce the documents without fail.
Basalirwa also warned the hospital director that if he fails to respond to the audit queries, the committee will have his impending transfer to Mbale hospital next month deferred until he responds to the issues raised.
In his audit report, Auditor General John Muwanga queried the overpayment of pension/gratuity by Lira hospital, to a tune of Shs 222.9 million following a review of the payroll data and Integrated Finance Management System (IFMS) payments.
“The overpayment of pension and gratuity leads to overstatement of pension expenditure and understatement of receivables,” says Muwanga.
In response to this query on May 26, Dr Obbo said that the figures indicated were gratuity payments to rightful officers who had retired from service and that these were paid using first call release for the first quarter since the facility did not have enough funds during the previous financial year.
Karekaho Nuwamanya, the Lira hospital human resource officer also then explained that the money was paid to claimants who were supposed to receive payments in the previous financial year 2019/2020. He said that the claimants were carried forward to the financial year 2020/2021.
However, the MPs then said that the evidence provided to the committee to justify the payment was a letter dated July 13, 2021, by the secretary to the treasury to all accounting officers regarding payments for the financial year 2021/2022 and did not apply to arrears in the previous financial years.
They demanded relevant explanations of the query and also accounting documents in order to proceed with the hearing.
The other queries by the auditor general against Lira hospital are the irregular payment of Shs 339.2 million to a contractor for works not done, Shs 65.3 million off-budget receipts, failure to absorb Shs 1.5 billion meant for payment of salaries, pension, underpayment of salaries by Shs 19 million, among others.