12 October 2018

Uganda: Government Not Punishing Thieves, Says Igg

Kampala — The Inspectorate of Government has decried the laxity by other government agencies in not enforcing recommendations on punishing thieves and recovering stolen public funds and assets.

In the latest report, the Inspector General of Government (IGG), Justice Irene Mulyagonja, listed to the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, at least 40 recommendations she says have not been acted on by the responsible officers since last year.

The recommendations that needed urgent action were included in the Bi-Annual Report of the IGG, covering January to June 2017.

These have again been highlighted in the latest report for the period from July to December 2017.

"Our biggest challenge is lack of implementation of the IG's recommendation. In every report, we make recommendations but there is laxity in taking actions on them, yet the officers liable may continue to get access to more public funds and assets," said Ms Munira Ali, the IGG's spokesperson.

The recommendations that have not been acted on by different government ministries, districts and institutions despite the culprits being listed by IGG include: uttering false or forged academic papers, mismanagement, abuse of office, causing financial loss, irregular remittance of funds, ghost workers, nonpayment of salaries, irregular recruitment of staff, and impersonation.

Other issues not acted on are misappropriation of funds, holding two public offices, irregular transfer of staff, no-accountability for funds, non-response to Audit queries, and ghost schools.

Notably, the IGG said the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Sports has not taken action on the Principal of UCC Aduku in Apac District for mismanagement of funds meant for industrial training.

The recommendation says the ministry was to reprimand the Principal for not putting systems in place to ensure accountability.

Another case ignored is that of Mr Ario Benson, a civil servant in Lira District, who has failed to refund Shs5.9m of the Shs9m that was erroneously credited onto his account. The report recommended the Chief Administrative Officer of Lira to monitor the officer to make sure the money is deposited in the IGG recovery account, but has never been done. The total amount of money stolen by civil servants and has not been refunded as per the recommendation of the IGG stands at Sh91m from districts across the country.

The IGG also faults the PS in the Ministry of Local Government for failing to recommend to the Public Service Commission to fire the former CAO of Oyam District over gross misconduct and flouting of procurement laws by irregularly awarding tenders for laboratory construction in the district.

Other cases, the IGG says have not been acted on by CAOs, the police Criminal Investigations and Crime Intelligence (CID) department after the recommendations were made for them to be handed over to district service commissions for dismissal or to be reprimanded by the police.

Ms Munira said if Parliament was discussing the IGG reports and referring some of the emerging issues to the relevant committees, the ministries concerned would have at least been compelled to take action on the implicated civil servants and accounting officers.

"We hope Parliament gives priority to these reports, discuss them and then order the action officers to act swiftly so that taxpayers' money is recovered and those who are supposed to be dismissed are ejected from office," Ms Munira said.

When contacted to explain the non-refund of stolen public funds by accounting officers, Mr Keith Muhakanizi, the Secretary to the Treasury and PS Ministry of Finance, said he first needed to read the report before spelling out what action to take.

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