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MPs grill Ministry of Defence officials over failure to return UGX1.7b

Defence Ministry Accounting Officer Edith Buturo (M) appearing before PAC with others. (PHOTO/Courtesy)

KAMPALA – Officials from the Ministry Of Defence found a hard time to explain why they failed to return Shs1.7b to the consolidated fund after failing to absorb the funds in 2017/2018 financial year.

The officials had appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to respond to queries raised in the June 2018 audit report that highlighted that although the Ministry failed to spend Shs615M, this money was never returned to the Treasury as required by the law.

Denis Barigye, Chief Accountant at the Ministry of Defence, however, refuted details in the auditing report arguing that the Ministry isn’t aware of the Shs615M but instead the money returned to the consolidated fund was Shs1.7b meant to be paid to 79,000 pensioners who hadn’t been paid, awaiting verification of the claimants.

Asked by PAC Chairperson Nandala Mafabi on proof showing that indeed the Shs1.7b had been transferred to the consolidated fund, Barigye shifted goal posts telling the lawmakers that the money bounced back before the closure of the financial year which explains why it couldn’t be reflected in the financial statement for the year under review.

Mafabi also asked whether they Shs1.7Bn they claim had bounced had been budgeted for, to which Barigye replied yes and when asked for the proof, he had none to back his claims, prompting  Edith Buturo, Undersecretary of Finance and Administration, who asked the Committee to give the Ministry more time to reconcile their financial statements before appearing again.

Lawmakers also criticised the Ministry on the growing pension arrears amounting to Shs508,636,383,717 a figure the auditors warned poses significant risks of litigation and related costs to the Ministry with s total of 79,084 veterans, survivors and ex-gratia yet to receive their funds.

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