Public Service Ministry On The Spot Over Pension Payments
The Ministry of Public Service is on the spot, following revelations of irregular payment of pension funds to non-existent individuals.
According to the Auditor General’s audit report of the Ministry For Financial year ended June 30th 2014, a total of 19, 135 pensioners who had attained the maximum pensionable period of 15 years were still on the ministry’s payroll and earning monthly pension yet they had not furnished the ministry with life certificates.
The Auditor General further stated that as a result, a total of Ugx 12.7 billion was paid in respect of their monthly pensions during the year under review could not be justified in the absence of life certificates, to prove that they were alive.
“There is a risk that the ministry continues to pay pension to ineligible or non-existent pensioners and thus occasioning loss to government,” the report reads.
Officials from the ministry appeared before the Public Accounts Committee on November 16, 2016 to respond to the audit report. The delegation, led by Catherine Musingwire, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, failed to also explain how Ugx 11 billion was also irregularly paid to pensioners during the 2014/2015 financial year yet they were not qualified to receive the payment.
Committee members including the committee chairperson, Angelina Osege was irked over the ministry’s laxity in verifying what she termed as ghost pensioners before the payments were made.
Osege, who is also the Soroti Woman MP, said the ministry should have demanded for documentation as proof to release the funds.
Committee vice chairperson, Gerald Karuhanga also backed Osege, over the reluctance by officials to verify before paying the pensioners using life certificates.
Adah Muwanga, the ministry’s Human Resources Manager, in response, explained that they verified the payments using the required documents; however the MPs did not buy her answer. The committee tasked the ministry to avail the life certificates for verification to them and liaise with the Auditor General to look at the documents.
Under Section 18 (1) of the Pensions Act, Cap 286, it is a requirement that every pension or other allowance granted under the Act, should cease upon the death of the person to whom it is granted.
The avoidance of doubt, it is declared that a pension granted under this section be payable for a period not exceeding not exceeding fifteen years from the date of retirement of the deceased pensioner.