KAMPALA – The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is investigating an expenditure of over UGX270 million that was drawn from a commercial bank account of the Judiciary to facilitate travel of the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe and Deputy Chief Justice, Owiny Dollo to Australia.
The Committee’s interest in the matter followed accountability furnished to the lawmakers as part of the 2017/2018 Auditor General report that noted that UGX34.076Bn was incurred on various items yet the description of the expenditure items weren’t consistent with the item coding in the chart of accounts, resulting into mischarge.
John Muwanga, Auditor General noted in his report that the Secretary to Judiciary didn’t seek authority to reallocate the resources and due to the mischarge, the items in the financial statements were misstated to a tune of UGX34Bn something he said undermines the appropriating authority.
Kagole rejected the figure cited by auditors saying the only money mischarged was UGX28,177,025,655Bn with the funds spent on; court operation funds, mediation funds, HIV medical allowances, monitoring and evaluation because the said items have no budgetary allocations.
The Committee found out that most of the money mischarged ended up on personal accounts of Judiciary staff citing an example of a cleaner whose account was debited Shs10M with suspicions that some of these accounts were used as scapegoat for big shots to collect money.
In a twist of events, the Judiciary appeared before PAC and named Katureebe and Owiny showing part of the money was spent on their travel expenses yet further scrutiny of the documents indicated that the same amount was withdrawn for their internal travels from within the country while they were away.
According to documents availed to the Committee, the Judiciary accounting officers indicated that the two judicial heads were out of the country between 28th June to 15th September 2018 but there is bank withdrawal to facilitate their local travel on the same dates.
The discovery prompted Nandala Mafabi, Chairperson PAC to summon former Secretary to Judiciary, Kivumbi Kagole to ascertain the facts and the possibility of such an occurrence.
He explained, “We are also looking at money given to judges to do work and travel to confirm did they travel? We want to tell the public that even if you are a judge, you are accountable to public resources. We have seen incidences where judges would travel in same period in various countries, we want to find out if they are divided in three or five. One of the accounts had cash transaction of over Shs14Bn in one year and Shs9Bn in another year.”