Local Government Accounts committee meeting with the MDAs on queries raised by the Auditor General for the FY 2015/16
Discussed in the Committee on Local Government Accounts on October 5th, 2017
The committee met with the officials from the Ministries, Department and Agencies of Government that their work directly impacts the service delivery at the local levels to respond to the queries raised by the AG. The Permanent Secretaries from the Ministry of Local Government, Ministry Education, Ministry of Works and Transport, Ministry of ICT and Information guidance, Ministry of Public Service, Ministry of Gender, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development as well as Ministry of Agriculture. The MDAs which did not appeared before the committee despite being summoned were the Ministry of Water and Environment, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance and the Road Fund officials.
The meeting was chaired by the Hon. Reagan Okumu to address the audit queries that have perennially appeared in all the entities, which are;
- The Performance of youth livelihood program
- Discrepancies between Orders and Delivery of Medicines
- Acquisition of land titles for local government land
- Education and health service delivery standards
- Road Fund
- Water and sanitation
- Staffing and human resource
- Matters of Accountability
- Under collection of local revenues
- Pension payments
- Unaccounted for funds
- Overpayment of salaries
Responding to the queries raised, as a mother Ministry for all the Local governments , the PS Local Government informed the committee that the deployment of the Chief Administrative Officers is supposed to be after 3 years in a district, however, there are a number of issues that he raised that often times necessitate the redeployment of CAOs. For example, the need to fill gaps left by the mandatory retirement, other appointments, as well as localised factors.
On the issue of lack of land titles, the PS informed Members that the Ministry has come up with the Asset Management Modules that they believe will address the issues of land and vehicle ownership, and on the Local revenue collection matter, the PS added, that in July 2017 the Ministry came up with the Regulations on Taxes which they hope will address the Local revenue collection and management.
The PS ministry of ICT informed members that they are currently disseminating to the Local government the ICT and the Use of ICT in DLG policies. He added that the main challenge was that the Ministry has not been involved in the Local Government budgeting, this FY however, the ministry managed to make presentations on how to budget for ICT in local governments. The PS further explained that the Ministry supported the development of 112 DLG’s websites.
‘There is a need to promote the usage of ICT and ensure the budget is allocated for ICT’, added PS. He also informed members that 10 Municipalities and 26 DLGs now use internet, financial management systems and 10 are using emails and 3 others still learning.
The ministry is piloting the e- staffing and e- procurement in Mpigi and Jinja DLGS as well as the e- collection of local revenues. He added that the major hindrance for these continue to be skills set as well as lack of ICT staff in DLG.
Taking his turn the PS Ministry of Public Service informed members that the new approved structures for every DLG provide for an ICT officer and the Systems Administrator. He added that the Ministry issued guidelines and provided or recruitment of positions which are critical and these are, Human Resource, Heads of Departments, engineers and Health. He attributed the understaffing to lack of functional District Service Commissions in some districts.
On the issue of pension files being at the Ministry yet the process was decentralised, the Ps informed members that they have scanned all the files and come up with systems that allows all DLGs see their files. They have also allocated support officers at the Ministry for all the DLGs who can be accessed anytime to address pension challenges and other matters for specific DLGS.
Members of the committee raised an issue of the percentages of the Minerals loyalty that is supposed to be shared by the DLG as well as the illegal mining activities in districts. The Commissioner minerals responded and informed members that the computing of the percentage is based on the market price of the minerals and the quantities. She added that the central government takes 80%, District 10%, Sub counties 7% and the land owner 3%.
She requested the ministry of works to put weighing bridges to support the cause, and assured members that the last payments to the districts were done by URA in March 2017.
She added that the bigger challenge has been the scarcity of manpower to regulate the sector, However, she note that the Ministry has been availed by a police unit and that the mining policy is not in place, therefore hope to address some of the challenges.
The commissioner informed members that they are working towards having the minerals certification mandatory provisions which will allow them track the minerals from site to export. Draft regulations for this are in place.
The PS Ministry of Education and Sports informed the committee that the 50% budget cut on what is called consumptive expenditure eg fuel, vehicle maintenance, allowance cut paused a challenge to the inspection of education standards. He however informed members that the Ministry has come up with the standards tools that are to be used by Head teachers.
The PS Ministry of Gender on the other hand was tasked to explain about the performance of the Youth livelihood program, and he informed members that each district has a recovery funds account, and at the central level the Ministry has an account at the Bank of Uganda, therefore they have records of how much comes from each district.
He added that OPM with support from DIFD has done a process evaluation and the impact evaluation is still on going. He also informed members that the regional and national review evaluation will start soon and they believe that the recommendations from all the evaluations will inform the future of the YLP.
The commissioner from the Ministry of Agriculture informed members that from the time NAADS went back to the ministry, there has been restructuring at the district and sub counties. And that the ministry has 39.6b that is provided to address the issues of lack of resources at the districts to implement Agriculture programs. The Production officers will be in charge of their districts, she added.
On the issues of the Ministry procuring seeds that the district do not require, he informed members that, it is a big challenge which is caused by the service providers, and that they have agreed with the district officials not to accept the supplies of what they did not request for. MPs recommended for a review of the operation wealth creation.
The Members of the committee recommended to all PS to get involved in the LG workings, and that this will improve the service delivery to the publics.
For the Ministries that did not appear for the meeting, the chair person informed members that they will have to get a day and summon them again because issues like Health and road funds must be addressed.