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MPs Fault Agriculture Ministry PS over UGX 2.7bn Unauthorized Expenditure

The Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Agriculture Pius Wakabi Kasajja on Wednesday failed to justify an expenditure of 2.7 billion Shillings on arrears that had not been budgeted without prior approval from authorities.
Finance Minister Permanent Secretary Pius Wakabi and other officials before PAC.

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The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Pius Wakabi Kasajja has failed to justify an expenditure of 2.7 billion Shillings on arrears that had not been budgeted without prior approval from authorities.

Wakabi and other officials were on Monday appearing before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chaired by Budadiri West MP Nathan Nandala Mafabi to answer to audit queries raised by Auditor General John Muwanga in his report for June 2018.

In the report, Muwanga queried the under-budgeting for domestic arrears by the Ministry citing that only 387 million shillings had been budgeted in the financial year 2017/2018 yet the ministry had 27.3 billion domestic arrears at the time.

Before the Agriculture Ministry officials could give an explanation for failure to adequately budget for financial liabilities as required by the Public Finance Management Act, 2015, Nandala noted that his committee had unearthed an expenditure of 2.7 billion shillings on arrears contrary to the approved 387 million.

“I don’t know how the Auditor General did not see this expenditure. Your budget for arrears was 387 million and you spent 2.7 billion. When did you become parliament and Ministry of Finance to appropriate this money?” Nandala asked.

Nandala demanded an explanation from Wakabi for the discharge of funds. With no clear explanation, Wakabi apologized for the discharge of expenditure saying that his ministry wanted to minimize on the burden of arrears.

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Wakabi’s explanation was dismissed by a section of MPs sitting on PAC. Ishaka Municipality MP Gordon Alinda and Tororo South MP Fredrick Angura demanded to know whether the Permanent Secretary sought permission from the Secretary to Treasury to discharge funds.

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Wakabi said that he had written to the Finance Ministry for authority before the expenditure but never received response on the matter. 

About the activities that the ministry suffocated to carry out the discharge, Wakabi said that the money was picked from mainly travel abroad activities requesting that the committee gives him time to give a detailed account for where the money was picked and expanded.

Section 16 of the Public Finance Management Act, 2015 requires an Accounting Officer to request the Minister of Finance for approval to vary, within a vote, the amount of money allocated to the vote.

It requires the request for reallocation of funds to identify the items on which the relocation is to be charged and give reasons for charging those items, show the amount of the funds to be varied and give reasons for the relocation, and identify the items for which the varied funds are to be used.

Nandala told Wakabi that his actions were inconsistent with the law and that sanctions were to be recommended against him. 

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