The Auditor General’s office is one month behind the
schedule of submitting the much-awaited 2019/2020 financial year audit report
to parliament. The report for
the financial year ended June 30, 2020, was expected by December 31, 2020.
Under the Constitution and the National
Audit Act, the Office of the Auditor-General is required to audit all Public Accounts of Uganda and submit to Parliament
an annual report of the Accounts audited. The public offices include the Courts, Central Government Ministries, Departments and
Agencies, Local Government Administrations, Public Universities, Uganda
Missions abroad and Corporations or other bodies established by an
Act of Parliament.
The audit report provides an independent assurance
on the use of public resources by revealing high-risk detailed findings or
appropriate use of funds.
This accountability cycle ends in Parliament with
the review of the Public Accounts and the Auditor General's Reports by the
oversight accountability Committees including the Public Account Committee
(PAC)- Central Government, Committee on Statutory Authorities and State
Enterprises (COSASE) and the Local Government Accounts Committee. These make
reports to Parliament with recommendations on which government acts upon.
Gloria Namugera, the Head of Communications at the Office
of the Auditor-General says that the COVID-19 pandemic affected the entity’s
activities and they could not finalize the audit process in time. She, however,
says that they would be able to submit the report 'within a few days.'
This is the first time that the Auditor General is
failing to deliver on his mandate as per the set timeline.
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Uganda Radio Network- URN learnt that some of the directors
in the OAG had earlier been admitted in hospital with coronavirus disease something
that affected the auditing process since the entity could not hold exit meetings
and review accounts of different Ministries, Departments and Agencies which
were equally hit by the pandemic.
Uganda registered its first coronavirus case in
March 2020 prompting President Yoweri Museveni to place the country under lockdown as one of the measures to curb forestall the spread of COVID-19. During the lockdown, restrictions including the
closure of education institutions, suspension of mass gathering and others were
put in place. Several government institutions also downsized on their workforce and reduced their activities.
Helen Nanteza Kawesa, the Parliament Deputy Director
of Communications and Public Relations confirmed that the Office of the Auditor
General wrote to the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga informing her of
their inability to submit the report on time due to the challenges of COVID-19
which affected the flow of work.
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Nathan Nandala Mafabi, the Chairperson of Parliament’s Public Accounts
Committee (PAC)said that any delayed accountability means
crisis. “First of all, the Accounts were closed on
June 30, the Accounts were given by Accountant General by August 30. So
what takes so much not to complete the audit. They should have a better
excuse than that,” said Nandala.
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He noted that those who are delaying the audit
process could be having 'something to hide.'
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Judith Akello Franca, the Chairperson of
Parliament’s Local Government Accounts Committee said that the Auditor General
cannot be blamed for delayed submission of the audit report because every
government entity including Parliament was affected by the COVID-19
She, however, said that emphasis in the awaited report
should be placed on the funds that different government ministries returned to
the Treasury for failure to execute activities during the pandemic and where
the money was directed to.
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Her Vice-Chairperson, Gilbert Olanya, said that the delay
has probably given accounting officers time to look for ways of accounting for
provided funds. He, however, hastened to add that any false accountabilities would
be detected whenever the report is filed.
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Parliament approved a budget of 40.48 trillion Shillings for the financial year 2019/2020 which has now gone up due to several supplementary
budgets approved by parliament to facilitate the COVID-19 response by the
Ministry of Health, Ministry of Trade and other government entities.