Defence officials fail to explain Shs20b bill

PARLIAMENT. Ministry of Defence officials yesterday failed to explain how they computed Shs20 billion in pending payments to power distributor Umeme after the Auditor General (AG) warned that the figure was compiled without supporting documents.
Defence officials led by Permanent Secretary (PS) Rosette Byengoma had appeared before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to respond to queries raised by the AG in the 2013 report.
The AG’s report also cast doubt over several procurement deals by the Defence ministry, including the purchase of vehicles for defence attaches which the report says was inflated by more than Shs57 million.
MPs attention was drawn to the revelation that the ministry recorded Shs35 billion in outstanding commitments, claiming the arrears were incurred on electricity and food bills.

The report
“Further included in the amount [Shs35b] is Shs20b in respect of Umeme which was not properly supported and reconciled. As such, I was unable to confirm the figure reflected as outstanding commitment. I aised the accounting officer to ensure that commitments are minimised and also reconcile the amounts outstanding,” the AG said in the report.
Despite insisting that the ministry has documents clearing the Shs20 billion envisaged payment to Umeme, Ms Byengoma did not prove this, only insisting that the AG conducted inquiries when the ministry’s negotiations with Umeme had not come up.
“At the time we appeared before the AG, we had not finalised the reconciliation exercise between us and Umeme. We have since done that and we have supporting documents,” the PS said.
However, committee members led by their chairperson, Ms Alice Alaso (Serere Woman), rejected Ms Byengoma’s explanation, warning that she is hiding a dubious transaction.
Budadiri West MP Nandala Mafabi warned that the bill the ministry is planning to clear with Umeme might not have resulted.
On the parcelling out of 4.8 hectares of ministry land in the Kampala suburb of Mbuya to private individuals, Ms Byengoma passed the buck to the police, saying the Force has been dragging its feet over an inquiry into the illegal land acquisitions.
PAC will convene a meeting with the army, Uganda Lands Commission and the police over the matter.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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