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Lira Hospital Officials Questioned on Overpayment of Pension

In his audit report, Auditor General John Muwanga queried the overpayment of pension/gratuity by the hospital, to a tune of 222.9 million Shillings following a review of the payroll data and Integrated Finance Management System (IFMS) payments.
Lira Hospital Director Dr. J.S.O Obbo with the Human Resource Officer Karekaho Nuwamanya before PAC.

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Members of Parliament on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) - Central Government have called for the arrest and investigation of Lira Regional Referral Hospital officials over irregular payment of pension.  

This was during the committee meeting on Wednesday with the hospital officials led by the Director, Dr. J.S.O Obbo regarding audit queries raised in the financial year 2020/2021.

In his audit report, Auditor General John Muwanga queried the overpayment of pension/gratuity by the hospital, to a tune of 222.9 million Shillings following a review of the payroll data and Integrated Finance Management System (IFMS) payments. 

“The overpayment of pension and gratuity leads to overstatement of pension expenditure and understatement of receivables,” says Muwanga.

Xavier Kyooma, the Ibanda South MP said that the overpayment to the tune of 222 million shillings is grave and that the Hospital Director needs to explain the circumstances under which the money was paid.

In response, Dr. J.S.O Obbo, the Hospital Director said that the figures indicated were gratuity payments to rightful officers who had retired from service and that these were paid using first call release for the first quarter since the facility did not have enough funds during the previous financial year.

“They were paid using first call/release of Quarter 1 because the Hospital was unable to clear all payments in the previous financial year following enhancement of salaries for medical workers. This affected the budget and amount approved for gratuity payment,” said Obbo in part.

He also noted that the payments were verified by Ernest &Young and cleared for payment by the Ministry of Finance. 

Karekaho Nuwamanya, the Lira Hospital Human Resource Officer further explained that the money was paid to claimants who were supposed to receive payments in the previous financial year 2019/2020. He said that these claimants were carried forward to the financial year 2020/2021. 

//Cue in: “anyone whose claim…

Cue out:...the first call.”//

However, Kyooma said that the evidence provided to the committee to justify the payment was a letter dated 13th July 2021 by the Secretary to Treasury to all accounting officers regarding payments for the financial year 2021/2022.  He said that the directive of the first call did not apply to arrears in the previous financial years.

Kyooma said that the provision of an irrelevant letter to explain a query pointed to fraud. He also noted that the hospital sought authorization from the Ministry of Finance in regard to the payment of arrears but before they got a response, the hospital went ahead to pay. 

//Cue in: “the Director is…

Cue out:…circulars work retrospectively.”//

Asuman Basalirwa, the Vice-Chairperson PAC also questioned the Hospital Director about a recommendation by the Auditor General for him to institute an investigation into the matter, take action and file a report. However, the committee learned that Dr. Obbo did not institute any investigation in regard to this payment something that angered MPs.

//Cue in: “that is what…

Cue out:…back my report.”//

MP Kyooma asked that the hospital officials are handed over to the CID officers attached to the committee for further investigations. 

//Cue in: “the officers need…

Cue out:…deliberate, Mr. Chairman.”// 

Mary Begumisa, the Ssembabule Woman MP also noted that the officials seemed not ready with the required answers needed to answer queries.

Basalirwa ruled that he was going to give the hospital management a last opportunity to go back and file fresh responses to the audit queries. He directed that their next interaction with the committee should be smooth with clear answers to the queries. 

//Cue in: “let me not…

Cue out:…you an opportunity.”//

PAC gave the hospital management one week to prepare and appear again before the committee.      

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