District officials for arrest over ghost staff, bribery, illicit tenders

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The Local Government Accounts Committee is investigating issues surrounding poor service delivery in various sectors across the country despite government providing the required funds to provide quality services.

The Committee, led by the Chairperson, Hon. Reagan Okumu (Aswa County) is currently undertaking a countrywide field fact-finding mission to find solutions to the worrying service delivery situation.

To achieve this, the Committee has started on a new approach of visiting government projects like roads, hospitals and municipalities to assess their status.

Committee members, after interacting with officials in Hoima, Fort Portal Mukono and Nakasongola, identified common issues and challenges, which have affected service delivery.

Audit inspections carried out by the Auditor General in a number of health facilities for the Financial Year 2015/206 revealed that National Medical Stores did not supply all the drugs ordered by the health facilities.

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The audit report further revealed that this has often led to medicine deficiencies and stock outs at health facilities and patients returning home untreated which at times leads to death.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Uganda and the National Medical Stores (NMS) requires the NMS to carry out periodic collection and disposal of expired medicines.

The Committee discovered however, that there are expired drugs stored at health facilities for periods ranging from six months to two years.

Additionally, the Committee observed that some of the expired medicines could have ended up on the market.  Another finding the committee interested itself in is the failure by some districts like Luwero to pay pension, gratuity and salary arrears to beneficiaries.

Despite the Committee’s effort to hold sittings nearer to the queried entities, some technical staff failed to attend the meeting without reasonable excuses.

The Committee Chairperson Hon. Reagan Okumu ordered for the arrest of Nakasongola Principal Human Resource officer Drici Charles for failing to appear alongside other district technical staff to clarify on allegations on Ghost staff on Nakasongola payroll.

Additionally, the Wakiso Chief Administrative Officer Mr. Luke Lokuda who testified on oath failed to respond convincingly to the Auditor General’s audit query regarding corruption and bribery allegations in the award of tenders by the Wakiso district.

The Committee then handed over Lokuda to Police CID section for further investigations.

The Committee also highlighted areas where officials are spending public funds without work plans as raised by the Auditor General’s report in a number of districts.

Shoddy work by contracted companies was seen in Fort Portal. The committee said that this denied people quality services as had been planned by government.

During the onsite visits, the committee commended the work done in Entebbe, Jinja and Masaka municipalities, since it was evident that funds were put to good use.

“Almost all municipalities have under declared their local revenues despite the huge potential for better local revenues. Revenue collection has become a nightmare; municipalities do not only under estimate but also under declare revenue, and this has affected service delivery,” Hon. Reagan Okumu said.

Okumu then advised the staff of local government to always use established systems to deliver quality services to the public.

He warned that no stone will remain unturned by the Local Government Accounts Committee as a means to fight corruption in the country.

The Auditor General subdivided the country into six audit regions. These are Masaka Audit branch, Fort Portal, Arua, Gulu, Soroti and Kampala Audit branch that stretches up to Nakasongola.

The Local Government Committee realized these abnormalities when it summoned Local Government accounting officers and their technical staff at Nakasongola this week Tuesday 13th June.

The Committee focused on the Kampala Audit branch which includes Luwero, Nakaseke, Butambala, Gomba, Mpigi and Nakasongola district where accounting officers and their technical staff were grilled to explain why government projects were messed up.

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