KAMPALA — Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has given a three-day ultimatum to the Judiciary to provide accountability for over missing UGX 20.74 billion for the financial year 2018/2019.
Permanent Secretary/Secretary to the Judiciary Pius Bigirimana and officials from the Judiciary on Monday appeared before PAC to respond to audit queries regarding funds released under the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) -Sector Wide Approach (SWAP) Development Fund.
The JLOS-SWAP Fund brings together all institutions involved in the administration of Justice.
Audit documents before PAC indicate that out of the UGX 20.74 Billion, indicate that 16.88 Billion was spent by the Judiciary on different activities some of which were disposing of cases in different courts, installing new courts, training of staff, procuring vehicles and others.
However, the Auditor General John Muwanga observed that in the 55 sampled activities worth UGX16.88 billion, the Judiciary management reported in generic ways and that for instance, the achieved outputs for the number of backlog case disposed of by Criminal and Civil Circuits was not stated.
“Failure to plan and report on the quality or quantity of activities implemented renders it difficult to establish individual activity costs for each planned output, and this curtails effective accountability when funds are subsequently spent,” he said.
Muwanga added that without clearly spelt out planned outputs, he could not ascertain whether funds were spent and the intended objectives achieved.
In response to the query, Simon Peter Opolot, the Judiciary Principal Economist said that by the time of the audit, quantities were not available but they have been since computed. He said that 1,500 case backlog were concluded by the Criminal Circuits while 2,000 cases had been disposed of by Civil Circuits in Masaka, Mukono, Jinja, Lira, Mbarara, Mubende, Mpigi, Masindi, Mbale and Fort Portal.
PAC Chairperson Nathan Nandala Mafabi was not convinced and questioned how the institution achieved all its targets 100 percent.
“What magic did you use to hit the targets of 1,500 and 2,000 cases without any digit exceeding?” he asked.
Bigirimana explained that this is what he found reported when he took up the office in August 2019 and appealed for more time to provide answers.
Butemba County MP Pentagon Kamusiime demanded details of all cases that were handled before the committee could conclude with the query.
This prompted Nandala to direct that the Judiciary avails the details of the cases and other accountability supporting the expenditure by Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Judiciary officials were also questioned about the under absorption of funds worth 3.86 billion Shillings.
According to the Auditor General, failure to utilize funds released may deter development partners’ intention to support new projects or may reduce the intended funding.
Nandala also directed that details of activities that never received funds. This was after Opolot said that the unspent balance was due to the late release of funds, delayed procurement process and delayed scheduling of court sessions.