PAC Grills Ethics Officials Over Fraud

Charles Muganzi, the head of the directorate of ethics and Intergrity has defended the irregular payment of UGX 247 million in allowances to staff. Mugazi made the defense while appearing before the Public Accounts Committee of parliament to respond to audit queries in the auditor general’s report for the financial year ending 2013.

Minister of Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo
Minister of Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo

In his report, the auditor general noted that Ugx247 was diverted from budgeted vote to staff allowances in the the directorate ethics and Integrity. But in his defense, Muganzi told the committee chaired by Alice Alaso, the Serere district woman MP that he was forced to pay out the money to staff in allowances because of the poor pay their receive from government.

Muganzi noted that, unless the core problem of poor salaries is addressed nothing will be done to stop attempts to create areas of earning allowances amongst civil servants.

He explained that as an accounting officer, it is his role to motivate staff so that they keep working. We can’t even attract staff instead we are losing staff adding that this is not backed by law, but is an improvisation to keep work going on.

Nandala Mafabi, the Budadiri West MP asked how Muganzi came up with the allowances and whether he had remitted PAYE. Muganzi explained that they were issuing a flat rate of Ugx60000 for allowances and said no PAYE was remitted as required by the law.

He said that he receives all sorts of pressure to pay allowance because without them work  stalls. Kabakumba Masiko, castigated the accounting officer for usurping powers which are not his saying his generosity is bound to cause strife in other ministries.

Kabakumba said , while he was trying to motivate his staff he is sending a wrong signal to other workers in different departments who aren’t beneficiary.

Muganzi was tasked to prove that the process isn’t by people who don’t want to work during normal working hours only to start later where they are guaranteed allowances.

He acknowledge the loophole and said the mechanism entirely depends on integrity of the officers and good will of staff.  He acknowledged flouting the Treasury Accounting Instruction and pleaded with the committee to understand his predicament.

He said it would be unfair for the committee to ask him to recover the money yet it didn’t go into his pocket.  The committee however faulted Muganzi for trying to appease his staff at the expense of the law.
Reading the committee resolution on the audit query, Alaso ordered Muganzi to recover the monies within a month. She cautioned the accounting officer that the money would be drawn from his salary if he fails to recover it.

The committee also faulted Muganzi for failing to account for Ugx96m paid out in fuel. The money was deposited on Standard Chartered bank through advanced cards to cater for fuel.

However there was no documentation showing the people who picked the fuel. The MPs tasked Muganzi to show proof of the people and the vehicles which picked fuel from different pump stations in vain.

Gerald Karuhanga, the Western Youth MP tasked the accounting office to show proof of authorization for the people who use their own vehicles and are paid out on fuel.

Muganzi pledged to submit the documentation before the committee after receiving communication from Total Uganda. He said there are printouts from Standard Chartered bank to show how fuel was drawn.

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