GHOST BILL! How Mulago hospital bosses paid UMEME Shs1.2Bn for unconsumed electricity

By our reporter

The Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has recommended a forensic audit into the payment of electricity bills by Mulago Hospital to UMEME, after information emerged that over Shs1.2Bn was gifted to the company without power being consumed.

The recommendation was made by Medard Sseggona (Busiro East) while tabling the Committee report on the Auditor General report 2021 on the health sector.

According to the Auditor General, Mulago National Referral hospital had liabilities of Shs2.952Bn and of this, Shs2.304Bn was money owed to UMEME) and deposits of Shs648,241,843.

But when the financial statements of Mulago Hospital were scrutinized by auditors, it was revealed that Mulago hospital instead paid Shs3.775Bn to Mulago Hospital, meaning the electricity company was gifted with Shs823,140,526 in excess.

The Auditors also faulted Mulago Hospital for paying out Shs648,241,843 in arrears, yet there is no evidence for work done by the said suppliers, further raising queries on the legality of the payment.

While interacting with the former Executive Director of Mulago Hospital, Byarugaba Baterana who was the then Accounting Officer, before his ouster in March 2022 by the State House Anti-Corruption Unit, he informed the Committee that the misstated liabilities stemmed from outstanding electricity liabilities in 2020 where the Hospital owed UMEME Shs2.304Bn in arrears.

However, more controversy arose on the payment when the Ministry of Finance released Shs3.127Bn to Mulago Hospital in respect of electricity arrears, over and above what the entity owed UMEME and the Hospital Management went ahead and paid the entire amount of the release to UMEME Ltd, including the excess of Shs823,140,526.

When the Committee scrutinised documents from Mulago Hospital, it unearthed a mismatch in the figures UMEME Ltd had billed Mulago Hospital with the 7th July 2021 letter putting the hospital electricity bill at Shs1.602Bn whereas Mulago Hospital sent Ministry of Finance a bill to a tune of Shs 2.304Bn.

Sseggona informed Parliament that the Committee found explanations given by Mulago Hospital as unconvincing, after the hospital management failed to avail the invoices from UMEME Ltd indicating the bills on which basis the money was paid.

“The Committee also noted that misstatement of liabilities could result in loss misappropriation of funds and render the credibility of the accounts doubtful. The Committee recommends a Forensic audit be undertaken to establish the systematic flow of funds from MoFPED through Mulago National Referral Hospital to UMEME Ltd with a view to establishing any possible misappropriation through collusion,” said Sseggona.

Parliament is slated to hold a debate on the Committee report before a final decision is taken.

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