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IFMS Hindering Utilization of UGX 201M COVID-19 Cash for Gulu City

Gulu City was elevated from a municipal to city status in July last year but its new details had not been fed into the IFMS by the Ministry of Finance. This has greatly weighed down and hindered the utilization of money in its bank accounts.
Gulu City Town Clerk, Moses Otimong. Photo by Emmy Daniel Ojara

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Gulu City is struggling to utilize 201.2 million shillings Covid-19 fund due to failures of the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS).

The IFMS is an automated budgeting and accounting system used by government entities to initiate, spend and monitor their budgets, process payments, manage and report on their financial activities. 

It is part of the broader Public Finance Management (PFM) reforms intended to improve budget preparation, accounting, reporting and auditing processes.   

Gulu City was elevated from a municipal to city status in July last year but its new details had not been fed into the IFMS by the Ministry of Finance. This has greatly weighed down and hindered the utilization of money in its bank accounts.  

In July this year, Gulu City received 201.2 million shillings from the Ministry of Health to facilitate the Covid-19 surveillance, data collection, transport and allowances for the Village Health Teams and Task Forces among others.   

Gulu Resident City Commissioner, Denis Odongpiny Odwong who is also the Gulu City Chairperson Covid-19 Taskforce says that consequently after receiving the money, they developed a work plan which was submitted to the Ministry of health and also approved.   

The work plans include 51.2 million shillings for the 128 Village CVID-19 Taskforces, 90 million shillings for travels, surveillance and data collection, 22.5 million shillings for vehicle maintenance and 37.5 million shillings` allowances for the City COVID-19 Taskforce members.   

However, the money has been lying idle to date as the city authorities say that their constant struggle to request the money through the IFMS system has since been unfruitful.   

Odongpiny says that the money has been lying idle in the bank account since it was received due to the bureaucracies, technicalities and failures of the IFMS much as they had been trying to utilize it.  

He admitted that the failure to utilize has not only affected responses to the Covid-19 situation in the City but also backtracked the commitments by the task forces in executing their duties to fight against the disease.  

Xavier Obwona, the Gulu City Deputy Town Clerk added that their request for money from the IFMS system has been futile because the City bank account details have not yet been upgraded from the municipal to the City account.  

He disclosed that the challenges in accessing money through the system have also affected the payment of some of the City staff since the attainment of the City status in July last year.   

Moses Otimong the Gulu City Town Clerk says that the money was received but the Ministry of Finance took a long time to upload the city`s details to the system until late last week.   

He explained that they are now in the process of transferring money to the two divisions, transferring money for fuel, yet to reach out to the people and create awareness and start facilitation of the task forces since the account has been upgraded already.

//Cue in: ‘’we are now…   

Cue out: …are getting relaxed.’’//   

Joyce Alima, the Speaker Gulu City Speaker also told URN that they were already purchasing fuel on credit from the different fuel stations to aid their activities noting that the demands for facilitation from the task forces had become overwhelming.

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