Kampala- Accounting officers found to be in breach of the law should be dismissed from service, legislators have recommended.
The hard-hitting recommendation follows debate on a report presented by the Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (Local Government), Martin Ojara Mapenduzi on the Report of the Auditor General for the Financial Year 2021/2022.
The report that focused on 27 district local governments, three cities, four divisions and five municipal councils was presented during plenary chaired by Speaker Anita Among on Wednesday.
In its findings, the report pinned some district accounting officers on gross negligence and recommended that the Permanent Secretary / Secretary to the Treasury hold them personally liable and reprimand them for failing to perform their duties and causing the return of funds to the Consolidated Fund.
Joseph Ssewungu, the Kalungu West County MP said: “The idea that once an accounting officer is implicated, he is transferred to another work station is making these officers think that they are invincible.”
Adjumani District Woman Representative, Jesca Ababiku, proposed that apart from holding the accounting officers responsible, other line ministries should also be held liable.
She gave an example of the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development Programme where the lands ministry delayed in planning and delivering plans for the projects.
According to the report, 35 local government votes considered were warranted a total sum of Shs 1,278.2 billion equivalent to 21.3 per cent of the total warrants to the local governments’ budget during the financial year under review.
The above is exclusive of local revenues and out of that, only Shs 1,163.9 billion was expended, representing 91 per cent absorption of the budget released. This led to the return of Shs 114 billion to the Consolidated Fund as a result of failure to absorb the resources.
Parliament has consistently decried low budget absorption as one of the hindrances to service delivery in local governments with some MPs faulting the finance ministry for delaying to disburse funds on time.
The Leader of the Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga, implored the House to carefully analyse the situation that local governments find themselves in, opining that one of the contributors to the problem is centralisation.
“We need to have a potted conversation as to whether de-centralisation is viable. We said we were taking services closer to the people but we instead took corruption,” he said.
“I want to invite this House to re-think the whole idea of devolution of powers. We need very serious reforms including through legislation,” he added.
He called upon MPs to become active on their district roads committees, emphasising that it is one of the best grounds to carry out oversight and prevent corruption by technical people.