By David Okema
AGAGO. The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has ordered the arrest of Agago Chief Administrative Officer together with his technical team for alleged incompetence and causing loss of public funds to a tune of Sh531 million.
PAC made the recommendation during a regional audit query at Gulu District Council Hall on Tuesday. The parliamentary oversight committee was in the region to audit local government financial year 2015/16 performance.
The committee found that Fred Mukasa Agago CAO and his team had forged documents to try and cover up failure to recover more than Sh531 million of public funds meant for boreholes project youth livelihood project and administration.
On June 25 and 26, last year, PAC audit team visited Agago to inspect the 16 boreholes project, among others, but found out that no work had been done contrary to Mukasa’s claims. PAC learnt that the officials had had the boreholes drilled immediately after the inspection.
Edward Ssembatya, MP for Katikamu South in Luweero District and a member of PAC, wondered how Mukasa could confidently lie to the committee about the boreholes “by tabling irrelevant and forged documents.”
The MP noted that there was connivance between technical team of and the Agago District officials.
In one of the documents, proforma invoices from Ebowa Company Ltd based in Lira District and Sri Balaji Industries EA Limited were sent to the CAO requisitioning payments of Sh136 million and Sh151 million, respectively, for the drilling of boreholes.
To the MPs’ consternation, however, the letters had accompanying payment receipts authorised by the chief financial officer with the same date as the invoices.
PAC was compelled to ask Mukasa to take oath of truth-telling before the committee.
The CAO was ordered to recover Sh130 million from Sri Balaji Industries EA Limited, and Sh139 million from Ebowa Investment Limited, payment PAC said were made for work not done. Another Sh117million used in administrative advances was also ordered refunded.
The committee also noted that the officials had further abused Sh42 million in incompetently vouched payments, Sh37 million from payment made without supporting documents, and Sh66 million from Youth Livelihood Fund.
Since Agago was carved into a district, it has been hampered by lack of adequate staffing, a situation Mukasa jumped on to blame the anomalies in financial management.
The CAO said the district is being run by 45 staff, which is short of over 100 needed to effectively run the local government administration.
But MP Reagan Okumu could hear none of the excuses, noting that it was the responsibility of the CAO to ensure that vacant positions are filled in time.
Okumu charged that Mukasa had exhibited too much incompetent to be entrusted with the big responsibility of a CAO, adding that the official would continue to be a liability to the local government.
Mukasa, who has been serving as Agago CAO for the last two years, was handed over to PAC police detectives to record statement at Gulu Central Police Station together with his technical team including; the acting accounting officer, water engineer, and procurement officer.
A total of 11 districts from the region, including Gulu, Kitgum, Amuru, Pader, Agago, and Lamwo, are being audited by PAC.