Jinja: Tensions are escalating across Busoga sub-region as the Parliamentary Local Government Public Account Committee (PAC) intensifies its inquiry into the 2021/22 auditor general’s report. Operating from Jinja City Hall, the committee is unearthing a series of financial improprieties within district administrations that are struggling to justify their handling of government funds.
In a startling revelation, the committee, chaired by Hon. Noah Mutebi of Nakasongola County, exposed a financial scandal leading to a loss of shs.10 billion in Kaliro district. The funds, misappropriated since 2014, were designated for pension, gratuity, and ex-gratia payments. This scandal has triggered inquiries by various anti-corruption agencies into the suspicious activities within the district.
According to the auditor general’s report, some pensioners in Kaliro district were either overpaid or underpaid, hinting at fraudulent practices. Hon. Mutebi disclosed that irregular payments totaling shs.492.7 million were made as gratuity to twelve retired employees, exceeding the expected payment amounts.
“We have uncovered that over 10 billion shillings were misappropriated in Kaliro district. The Chief Finance Officer fraudulently established a general fund account, receiving funds directly from Kampala. He leveraged his position as the chairperson of the Sacco of civil servants to extort the money,” stated Mutebi.
The implicated officials, including the Kaliro district Human Resource Officer, have been suspended from their positions, and legal proceedings are underway as investigations continue to hold the culprits accountable. Hon. Mutebi has called for guidance from the Public Service, as the official six-month interdiction period has elapsed.
Mutebi and other committee members, after questioning Kaliro district’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Samuel Bigirwa, who acknowledged the financial irregularities, instructed him to initiate efforts to recover the misappropriated funds dating back to 2014. Elijah Kagoda Dhikusooka, the Kaliro district head, attributed the errors to his predecessor, Wycliffe Ibanda, and pledged to rectify the situation.
Additionally, the committee terminated the employment of Jinja City Clerk Edward Lwanga and his administrative team, as they were unable to account for shs.250 million in local revenue collection, the utilization of which remained unclear. Nevertheless, the group has been directed to present legitimate documents demonstrating the proper utilization of the funds in a subsequent meeting with PAC in Kampala.