Legislators have demanded an apology from the Secretary to Treasury, Mr. Keith Muhakanizi, for failing to inform Parliament about a supplementary expenditure, an act contrary to the Constitution.
The supplementary expenditure amounting to Shs 18.86b for the FY 2015/16 was allocated to, among others, the ministries of Local Government, Lands, Tourism and the Electoral Commission, and over 30 local governments.
The Rt. Hon. Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, said that the apology was a sanction to the Secretary to Treasury, who also doubles as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, over his “conduct of not informing Parliament early.”
Oulanyah said that the date and time of the apology would be communicated to the House after the Clerk’s communication to Mr. Muhakanizi.
The supplementary expenditure, which was meant to cover wage bills in the FY 2015/2016, was presented to the Clerk to Parliament in December 2016 and laid in the House in January 2017, two months outside provisions of the Public Finance Management Act.
Legislators rejected an explanation given by the Minister of State for Finance (Planning) Hon. David Bahati that the supplementary schedule could not be presented as Cabinet had not been constituted.
Hon. Muwanga Kivumbi (DP, Butambala), who presented a Minority Report, said that the late presentation of the schedule contravened the Constitution and the Public Finance Management Act.
He said that Parliament was duty bound to treat the funds as a loss of public funds as they were not made in accordance to the law. He said that having the PS apologise in the House would send a strong signal to other accounting officers that Parliament will not tolerate their bad behaviour.
“Parliament is duty bound to hold the Secretary to Treasury responsible; personally accountable to Parliament and require him to make good of the loss of public funds as required under the law,” said Hon. Kivumbi.
Hon. Herbert Ariko (FDC, Soroti Municipality) recommended that on top of the apology, the supervisor takes additional administrative measures against the PS.
Hon. Joseph Ssewungu (DP, Kalungu West) was incensed that some accounting officers despised Parliament adding that Muhakanizi behaved like he was above the people’s representatives.
Minister Bahati apologized on behalf of the Ministry and appealed to Parliament to approve the supplementary expenditure.
He said that the funds had been used to pay salaries of employees, who were recruited in the middle of the financial year after the end of the year’s budgeting process.
“This was meant to cater for wage shortfalls in government. Various circumstances meant that we could not lay the Supplementary Expenditure Schedule in time,” he said.
“Over time, we have been experiencing issues with the payroll management when accounting officers budget for salaries, then make revisions in the middle of the financial year.”
Bahati said that Accounting Officers recruit or promote staff and yet they had not budgeted for them. He however said measures taken by the Ministry of Finance to clean up the payroll had saved government resources amounting to a tune of Shs 200b in two years.
Parliament approved the Supplementary Expenditure Schedule No. 2 amounting to Shs 18.8b for the financial year 2015/2016.