“Finance ministry connived with district leaders on surplus funds”
Legislators on a House committee have accused Nakasongola District leaders of conniving with officials from the finance ministry of inflating budgets, thereby causing funds to be returned to the Consolidated Fund.
The district leaders were appearing before the Public Accounts Committee- Local Government on Thursday, 24 August 2023, to respond to the Auditor General’s report for the Financial Year 2021/2022.
According to the Auditor General, out of the Shs20 billion budget, Shs114 million was returned to the Consolidated Fund.
This prompted the Shadow Minister of Local Government, Hon. Betty Naluyima, to ask why the funds were returned.
“Explain to this committee because majority of the local governments are crying that they do not have money and yet others are returning money to the Consolidated Fund,” said Naluyima, also Wakiso District Woman Representative.
Nakasongola’s Principal Accountant, Edith Kirega, said that the Shs114 million was excess funds.
She cited a case in which the district requested for Shs49 million in the first quarter but the finance ministry released Shs89.4 million.
“During the indexation, our calculation was Shs49 million but the Ministry of Finance sent us more money,” said Kirega.
Hon. Noah Mutebi (NRM, Nakasongola County) asked if an inquiry on the excess funds was sent.
“When did you realise that you received excess money? Did you notify Ministry of Finance that you received excess?” asked Hon. Mutebi.
Kirega said that no inquiry was made, adding that the excess funds were only discovered at the end of the financial year.
Hon. Ibanda Rwemulikya (Indp., Ntoroko County) wondered why the district did not disclose that they received excess funds.
“Your explanation does not add up. Money was sent, you kept quiet. If it was excess, it is because you knew this money was for eating,” he said.
Hon. Patrick Isingoma (Indp., Hoima East Division) blamed the finance ministry saying that the responsibility of ensuring accurate releases lies on the ministry.
“The problem is with the ministry and not districts. We just need evidence that this money was sent back to the Consolidated Fund,” said Isingoma.
Committee chairperson, Hon. Gilbert Olanya, said that the matter will be tabled before the finance ministry. “If there is connivance, it starts with the finance ministry, but the local governments should also be able to ask finance about excess funds,” he said.