The Chairperson of the Local Government Accounts Committee, Hon. Reagan Okumu, says district officials who do not provide proper accountability risk losing their jobs.
Okumu said that as a Committee, they are going to intensify the fight against graft and embezzlement of public funds, which is rampant in local governments.
“I am warning all accounting officers that this Committee will give recommendations to the Ministry of Finance to get rid of accounting officers who cannot properly account for government funds,” he said.
Okumu was addressing district accounting officers, town clerks and chief finance officers from the districts in the Masaka audit region at Masaka District Headquarters on Tuesday, 18th July 2017.
The district officials were invited to explain queries raised by the Auditor General in the financial report for the year ended 30th June 2016.
Districts in the Masaka audit region include: Masaka, Rakai, Sembabule, Lyantonde, Lwengo, Mubende, Mityana, Bukomansimbi, Kalungu, Kiboga, Kyankwanzi, and Kalangala district.
The Chairperson warned accounting officers who fail to collect local revenue and described them as, ‘lazy officers who have made it hard for municipalities to develop’.
He told the accounting officers that the committee would not drop accounting queries because they had taken a long time but expects them to provide all the relevant documents to each and every query raised.
Hon. Daniel Muheirwe (Buhaguzi County) told the officers that some of the queries raised by the Auditor General could have been avoided if due care was taken to comply with financial regulations.
”Most of the funds in local governments are embezzled through falsification of documents,” Muheirwe said.
The Masaka LC5 Chairman, Jude Mbabali, thanked the Committee for educating local government leaders about proper accountability methods and also thanked government for promoting rural development by extending grants to districts.
“I have learnt a lot by just sitting and listening to the Committee. I thank government for the grants because it has promoted education, health and other programmes.”
The Committee is set to travel to Mbarara, and Mbale Audit regions later in July and August.
This comes after Seven districts surrounding Queen Elizabeth National Park received a total of 929 million shillings as mandatory community contributions by each National Park.
Close to a billion UGX was disbursed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to the 7 districts as part of the revenue sharing arrangements agreed by UWA and the communities neighbouring the park.
Under the financial year 2015/16, the districts of Kasese, Kamwenge, Rukungiri Kanungu, Ibanda, Rubirizi and Mitooma are set to share a whooping UGX 928,005,174 thanks to the boost in the tourism due to gate collections.
However, according to the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the communities capacity to write out the projects to which the funds must go remains a challenge.
The districts have also faced challenges in accounting for the money disbursed. This means that the communities that are supposed to benefit from the money do not get most of it.
According to Edward Asalu the Chief Warden Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kasese received the ‘lion’s’ share of UGX175, 809, 262 followed by Rubirizi UGX 104,381,427, Kamwenge UGX 72,987,664, Rukungiri UGX 57, 385, 229, Kanungu UGX 41, 707,236, Mitooma UGX 39,856,100 and Ibanda district receiving UGX 21, 646,966.