The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday 14th of August met with officials from the East African Affairs led by the Permanent Secretary (PS), Edith N. Mwanje. The committee presided over by PAC Vice Chairperson Okin P.P Ojara, was receiving responses to the queries raised by the Auditor-General, John Muwanga for the FY2017/2018.
Key on the Auditor General’s observations was that the Ministry was allocated 31 billion shillings in FY2017/2018 to settle pension arrears for employees of the defunct East African Airways (EAA). Shockingly, the report by the Auditor-General shows that up to 11.68 billion shillings were not spent by the ministry by the close of the financial year which compelled them to send it to the consolidated fund.
The ministry had also accumulated liabilities totalling 40.45 billion shillings by close of FY2017/2018. These comprise of payables in respect of outstanding contributions to International Organizations amounting to 21.95 billion and pension liability of 18.5 billion. The accumulation of outstanding obligations could result in reputational risks as well as litigation cases.
The committee noted that under-absorption of funds negatively effects on the Ministry’s performance and the accounting officer should be held responsible for failure to spend the 11.68 billion shillings. They further tasked the accounting officer to provide measures put in place by management to ensure that the Ministry’s funds absorption is enhanced.
On domestic arrears, the committee noted that the accounting officer has not adhered to the commitment control system of government that is meant to stop entities from committing government beyond the level of availed resources. The committee recommended that the accounting officer be held responsible for the debts incurred by the ministry.
The accounting officer, Edith Mwanje informed the committee that 624 employees of the defunct East African Airways were planned for but only 420 people were present for verification after a call for the beneficiaries was published and put out. Of these, 400 were paid a total of 20 billion Shillings altogether.
On submitting a budget to parliament before undertaking verification of the beneficiaries, Mwanje informed the committee that they did not have enough time to carry out the verification before the budget process.
PAC Vice Chairperson Okin P.P Ojara ruled that some of the queries will have to be handled by the Criminal Investigation Department to identify if there was issues of corruption, mismanagement of funds and any other fraudulent activities.