Pledges to Battle Irregularities in local Governments.
The Minister of State for Local Government, Hon. Victoria Rusoke Busingye, has undertaken to fight the abuse of office and misuse of funds among other irregularities plaguing operations of local governments.
Hon. Busingye was responding to the Public Accounts Local Government Committee report presented to Parliament of its investigations of audit issues raised by the Auditor Generals reports for Financial Year 2020/2021 on 12 District Local Governments and two municipal councils.
The committee chairperson, Hon. Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, said there were audit irregularities plaguing the local government authorities were accounting officers paying fully for services and projects that had not been completed, erroneous payments, misallocation of funds, corruption and fraud.
It was further noted by the committee that some officers who caused financial loss to government were being transferred to other district local governments instead of facing disciplinary action.
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa, responded to the report findings saying that government needed to devise punitive measures of dealing with officers who cause the country financial loss.
“You cannot punish a misbehaving accounting officer by transferring them to districts with bigger budgets and funds,” Tayebwa added.
The Deputy Speaker proposed that accounting officers who engage in corruption should be investigated by the Inspector General of Government (IGG) instead of the Police because the IGG is better suited for that.
Hon. Yovan Adriko (NRM, Vurra County) stated that as per the committee report, money has been embezzled by officers in the Arua District Local Government paralysing several public projects and retarding progress.
“We want to see the perpetrators of these acts punished and the money recovered for the sake of the district,” he noted.
Alebtong district Woman Representative, Hon. Dorcas Acen asked that the central government urgently tackles the issue of delayed access to the pension payroll which has become a major issue of contention.
She was distraught that the elderly in their retirement have had to struggle to access the payroll.
“The retirees find themselves in situations where they have to travel to the Ministry of Public Service in Kampala and back to their villages for protracted periods before they can be added to the pension payroll; this must be handled at local government level,” Acen added.
Minister Busingye agreed with most of the concerns raised in the over 100-page report and said that they are working to solve them albeit requiring the support of the local leaders.
“I discovered recently in Kiruhura that the Chief Administrative Officer paid a contractor in full, Shs1.7 billion but unfortunately, the contractor died two weeks later in a motor accident,” she noted.
Busingye said that the ministry took steps to interdict the responsible officers, but the process has taken long because of bureaucracies within the judiciary.
She added that the effort to curb such incidences is a multi-ministerial matter and not only the reserve of the Ministry of Local Government.
“We need the support of all other government bodies to execute our work efficiently,” Busingye noted.
Busingye also stated that the ministry is dealing with irregular recruitments at the local government level by nullifying all appointments that are not routed through the Ministry of Public Service and interdicting the perpetrators.
She appealed to the Members of Parliament to reach out to the ministry for any issues that may arise at the district level.
The minister further committed herself to stopping the practice of transferring local government officers who have been found guilty of abuse of office and public funds to other local governments instead of being interdicted.
The committee report was adopted by the House.