Government has failed to collect its dividends amounting to Shs1.25bn from Housing Finance Bank, MPs on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) blaming Ministry of Finance for the laxity.
According to the Summary Statement of Financial Performance of Public Corporations and State Enterprises for the financial year ended 30th June 2015; Housing Finance Bank Limited made a dividend declaration of Shs2.55bn and Government of Uganda (GoU) share was Shs1.25bn.
However, this amount was not received by Government and was not recognised in the receivables balance for both the Treasury Operations and the Consolidated Financial statements.
Government owns 49.18% shares in Housing Finance Bank, while National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has 50% and National Housing and Construction Company Limited accounts for O.82% shares.
The details of the laxity to collect the dividends were highlighted in the report by PAC on the Ministry of Finance following a report by the Auditor General who warned that failure to remit dividends deprives the Government of revenue on investments which is a violation of its rights as a shareholder in the company.
“In the circumstances, it is highly likely that Government is losing revenues through laxity in collection of dividends and that the receivables balance is under stated by Shs1,256,589,201 and any other uncollected receivables,” the report reads in part.
It should be noted that government has been struggling to pay public servants to the extent of borrowing to clear outstanding arrears.
When questioned about the matter during the Committee meeting with the Ministry of Finance officials, Keith Muhakanizi, Secretary to Treasury acknowledged the observation and appreciated the need for enhanced monitoring to compliment the efforts of Project Monitoring Unit (PMU).
Muhakanizi told PAC that the Accountant General had established mechanisms for timely remittance of dividends, noting that communication has already been sent to Housing Finance to confirm and remit any dividends declared.
But despite the explanations, PAC blamed Muhakanizi for failing to discharge his responsibilities and safeguard the interests and rights of the Government as a shareholder in Housing Finance Bank Ltd.