MPs on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) are suspecting collusion among the officials in the Judiciary to embezzle Shs34.1bn taxpayers’ money.
During a meeting between MPs and Judiciary at Parliament today, Kagole Kivumbi, Secretary to Judiciary refuted above figure, saying that they only mischarged Shs28.17bn.
He said that some of the funds were spent on HIV medical allowances, monitoring and evaluation among other items.
Kagole explained that the money was spent on items with no budgetary allocations.
“The expenditure relates on court operations funds, mediation funds, court sessions, impress funds, locus visits, HIV medical allowances and expenditures for monitoring and evaluation,” he said.
After back and forth debate that lasted over five hours over accountability of the money in question, PAC Chairperson, Nandala Mafabi adjourned the meeting and summoned Director of Criminal Investigations Department, Grace Akullo to take part in proceedings because she can have clients.
“We are seeing that the budget of judiciary which was Shs135bn, 25.6% was diverted which clearly shows that Judiciary lied to Parliament. Justice is for all of us that is why we are saying this diversion calls for total investigation, so tomorrow, we want her (Akullo) to be around so that she takes over the matter as a directive from Parliament,” Mafabi said.
He added: “In a week you pay someone Shs65m, then the next day Shs40M and in one week somebody has over Shs100M; what kind of activities is someone doing for that kind of money? We asked why pay these people? This isn’t salary or allowance. They are paying Islamic University for somebody’s masters for two years, why do you give that person cash instead of paying the university?”
The Auditor General’s report noted that expenditure totaling to Shs34.1bn was incurred on various items without appropriately applying the Government of Uganda chart of Accounts as prescribed by the Accountant General yet description of the expenditure items were not consistent with the item coding in the chart resulting into mischarge yet the Accounting Officer didn’t seek for clearance to reallocate resources to the required expenditures items.
“Due to the mischarges, the items in the financial statements are misstated to the tune of Shs34bn,” read in part the report.
The other queries the Judiciary has to explain is the total of Shs3.39bn spent on inspection of various courts by accounts section, internal audit, operations funds for other courts and renovation of Bugiri court.
However, this accountability was rejected by the auditors who said that these activities are not related to the operations of the Registrar High Court Kampala. Besides these funds had not been budgeted for under this vote rendering the expenditure ineligibility
The Auditors also discovered that the Registrar High Court and the Judicial Studies Institute had closing balance amounting to Shs841,604,776 as at 30th June 2018, however, there was no evidence to confirm the funds were remitted to the Consolidated Fund account as required.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Judiciary was accused failing to disclose the amounts in their financial statements and board of survey report.
The Judiciary officials explained that a total of Shs521.4m reflected on the Registrar High Court was committed to the travel expenses abroad for the judges and magistrates who were set to travel to Australia for an international judges and magistrate conference and for operations of the chambers of the chief justice.
The Judiciary is also expected to account for Shs5.85bn advanced to various courts Supreme, Court of Appeal, Commercial Court, Anticorruption court, Civil Court, Criminal Division, Land Division, family court to enable operations and to the Judicial Studies Institute for training activities, although the funds lacked necessary support documents such as activity reports, payee acknowledgment receipts.
Auditor General, John Muwanga admitted that he was unable to understand the authenticity of the expenditure and failure to accounts for the funds implies that the funds may not have been utilized for the intended purpose.
Furtherl, Shs801m was advanced to judiciary staff through their personal bank accounts to undertake operation activities but the period in which some officers purported to have implemented these activities overlap each other and they exceed the threshold of 21 days per diem provided by the Uganda Public Service standing orders.
Out of the above figure, a total of Shs479.4m was paid to four officers in respect of allowances for implementing various activities within the year but the amounts received by these officers were way beyond the amounts they would be ordinarily entitled within a financial year.