Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has faulted the
administration of China-Uganda Friendship Hospital, Naguru over accumulated
utility arrears totalling 334 million shillings.
The Hospital Director, Dr Emmanuel Batibwe together with Regina Mugisa, the
Hospital’s Principal Administrator, Siraj Isabirye, the Hospital Head of
Accounts and others appeared before the committee this afternoon to answer to
audit queries raised in the Auditor General’s reports for financial years
2016/2017 and 2017/2018.
In his 2017/2018 audit report, Auditor General John Muwanga queried
accumulation of utility arrears with water bills totalling 206.2 million,
electricity 102.2 million and internet costs 26.4 million.
He advised that sufficient budget provision is made by the
hospital to cater for the settlement of the outstanding utility arrears and to
strictly adhere to the government commitment control system to avoid the risk
of overcommitting government.
Asked by PAC Vice Chairperson, Okin P.P Ojara to explain the
accumulated arrears, Dr Batibwe contrary to the audit findings said that the
utility bills had accumulated over the past four years.
He attributed the accumulation to high utility consumption that is
way above the approved budget.
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Kalungu West MP, Joseph Sewungu questioned why the hospital officials were
refuting findings of the auditor general that revealed that the arrears had
accumulated in just one year. He wondered how the facility accumulated all the
arrears in one year.
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Fredrick Angura, the Tororo South MP also faulted the hospital
management for not prioritizing the payment of arrears in the budget even when
the utilities contribute a lot to the running of the hospital.
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Siraj Isabirye, the Hospital Head of Accounts explained that the Finance
Ministry had in the previous financial years refused entities to indicate their
arrears in the financial statements without approval and that the approval was in
the financial year 2017/2018.
The representative of the Accountant General in the Committee
Raphael Babigaba confirmed Isabirye’s submission but insisted that the queried
arrears accumulated in one financial year.
When asked by the committee for evidence that the hospital has utility arrears,
Isabirye said that they had not carried the documentation with them, which angered
Bukoto East MP Florence Namayanja.
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PAC Vice Chairperson Ojara faulted the hospital for not exhibiting clear effort
to ensure that the arrears are cleared saying that the allocated 81 million shillings
for water and 116 million for electricity in the coming financial year 2019/2020
budget will not solve the problem of arrears.
Ojara directed that the officials return before the committee next Tuesday with
proper evidence for the arrears and a clear plan to pay them.