KAMPALA – Lawmakers on the Parliament’s Finance Committee have raised doubts about the competence of Internal Auditor General, Dr. Fixon Akonya Okonye after an independent audit revealed that the Ministry of Finance had inflated domestic arrears to a tune of Shs400Bn.
The questions surrounding Akonye’s competence followed a meeting held between officials of the Ministry of Finance and MPs, with MPs wondering how Akonye would commit such oversight of failing to verify all domestic arrears having put the figure at Shs2.1Trn.
However, when the Ministry of Finance contracted a private auditor, Ernst and Young, the audit firm discovered that domestic arrears to a tune of Shs400Bn had no documentation to support their existence.
David Bahati, State Minister for Planning at the Ministry of Health, however, defended Akonye saying he played his part and his efforts were supplemented by the private auditors and asked MPs to be grateful that Government was able to save Shs400Bn in fictitious arrear claims.
The Minister said, “We contracted an external auditor to look into Public debt which has been increasing annually. We contracted Ernst and Young to audit arrears between June 2017-June 2019 of Shs2.1Trn and discovered that Shs400Bn had no evidence of their existence. They didn’t have delivery notes, and contracts. We told the MPs that the Internal Auditor also did something but was supplemented by Ernest and Young and we realized we would save Shs400Bn of the fake domestic arrears.”
The Internal Auditor General told Parliament that the stock of domestic arrears as of 14th November 2019 stands at Shs3.979Trn compared to Shs2.567Trn as of 30th June 2018.
It should be recalled that in June 2017, the Inspector General of Government, Irene Mulyagonja warned that the Ministry of Finance against appointing Akonye as the Internal Auditor General.
Akonye was shortlisted with Quinto Rwatoyera and Richard Bernard Gudiou Gid’Agui, but the other candidates’ applications were rejected despite thorough scrutiny into Akonye’s application revealing that he didn’t meet some of the requirements needed for the job.
The Inspectorate noted that Akonye lacked the 15years of membership in the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda, as required by the job specification.
Records showed that Akonye became a member of Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in March 2006 and was enrolled as a member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda on May 2nd 2006, meaning he had only accumulated 10 years at the time he applied for the position of Internal Auditor General.
The IGG also pointed out that Akonye lacked integrity having been named amongst officials in corruption related to the Ministry of Public Service pension scam.
Akonye was also accused of nepotism and he had earlier been accused of harassing female staff at the Ministry.
However, Akonye the IGG that the requirement on membership of ACCU only applies for the position of the Auditor General as stipulated under the Audit Act 2008, was not necessary for the position of Internal Auditor General.