Uganda: Officials Fail to Account for Shs170m Road Fund

Gulu — Gulu Municipal officials on Monday failed to account for Shs171m given by government under the Uganda Road Fund.

The officials had appeared before the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee on Local Government sitting at Gulu District Council Hall to answer queries raised in the audit reports by the Attorney General that highlighted poor implementation of the road fund.

Government allocated Shs1.403 billion for maintenance of public roads within Gulu Municipality in the financial year 2017/2018.

PAC chairperson Judith Franka Akello, also the Agago District Woman MP, on Tuesday presented before the committee audit reports from the Auditor General that indicates only Shs1.231 billion was spent by the municipal officials.

She demanded to know how the remaining Shs171.8 million was spent since it was not accounted for to the Auditor General. None of the officials could explain the variance and prove accountability for work done.

Those grilled were the municipal acting finance officer, Mr Nicholas George Kidega, town clerk Francis Barabanawe, and the municipal engineer, Mr Terence Odonga.

Ms Akello said the officials also underdeclared the variance of the money unaccounted for as Shs167m to the auditor general instead of Shs171m.

She said the officials overflexed the budget for road maintenance

"We have given the officials ample time to prepare enough evidence since February but there is nothing to prove Shs171 million was utilised, this committee rules that the amount unaccounted for be paid by the chief accounting officer, head of finance and the municipal road engineer," Ms Akello told the committee.

However, Mr Barabanawe in his submission said: "Madam chair, I am not a corrupt person, I want to recommend that I should not be involved in the recovery of the money. There is no way I can be held accountable with them. No one can eat money under my armpit, there could be some figure mismatch and I recommend that an independent audit be conducted."

In an interview with Daily Monitor, Ms Akello, the PAC chairperson, however, said they will carry on deeper investigation into the conduct of municipality officials in how they utilise funds.

"When government sends money and it's not properly accounted for it is quite disappointing. Our recommendation will be made after thorough investigation, what we have got is total variance of figures from the officials. We shall invite the team to Kampala," Ms Akello said.

The committee is expected to grill local government leaders from Acholi, Lango and parts of Karamoja sub-regions till Thursday.

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