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PAC Faults Naguru Hospital over UGX 334m Utility Arrears

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.
12 Jun 2019 18:30
China-Uganda Friendship Hospital, Naguru Director Dr. Emmanuel Batibwe with Siraj Isabirye, the Hospital Head of Accounts before PAC.

Audio 6

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.

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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.

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