The Public Accounts Committee (local government) has questioned officials from Kira municipality in Wakiso district for their mishandling of the payroll, which resulted in both underpayment and overpayment of staff salaries and pensions.
This inquiry arose in response to audit concerns raised in the Auditor General’s Report for the 2021/2022 fiscal year. The report also unveiled instances of “ghost workers” who have been listed as pension beneficiaries for several years.
The report shed light on an individual who, using fabricated documents from the Education Service Commission, managed to receive over sh7m during the reviewed year while also being on pension for the past seven years.
This revelation provoked the committee members to demand explanations from the municipality officials regarding the individual’s status.
The committee chairperson, Gilbert Olanya, questioned the municipality’s practices, asking, “When staff are assigned to your municipality, do you perform verifications, or do you simply accept whoever is assigned to you? How advanced is the progress of this case?”
Patrick Isingoma (Hoima East Division MP) called for legal action against the individual, emphasizing that such measures would discourage similar attempts in the future.
He expressed concern that these cases are frequently reported but often lack subsequent action, potentially leading to a surge in such occurrences.
The report also brought to light sh49m that was disbursed to 10 secondary school employees who were not registered in the Education Service Commission’s database.
Deputy Town Clerk of Kira municipality, Paddy Kakumba, clarified that these employees were not verified by the commission during the audit period. He pointed out that later verification exercises absolved these 10 employees from any wrongdoing.
The head of finance for the municipality, Geoffrey Muwanga, admitted to a lack of cross-checking in the past, as they relied solely on the commission’s decisions. He committed to implementing a new practice of verifying personnel before adding them to the payroll.
Lawmakers also expressed frustration over delayed inclusion of newly recruited staff on the payroll, which led to underpayment amounting to sh3.1m.
This issue, combined with the failure to promptly remove retired or transferred staff from the payroll, drew criticism from MPs, who reprimanded officials for their negligence.
Gilbert Olanya demanded accountability for public funds spent on individuals no longer in service and requested evidence of the municipality’s efforts to recover sh4m paid to retired staff.
Linda Auma, the Lira district Woman MP, criticized the officials for their attitude, stating, “You act as though this is your first experience with an audit. We anticipate proof of fund recovery along with a clear schedule for the reimbursement.”
The Auditor General’s report also highlighted sh155m recorded as underpayment in relation to pension and gratuity. MPs argued that compensation should be considered for this discrepancy.