IMPRACTICAL! Parliament wants ban on appointing medics as hospital accountants

By our reporter

Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has recommended to the Government to end the practice of appointing medical workers as accounting officers, saying the practice has led to the poor management of hospitals across the country.

The recommendation is contained in the Committee’s Report of the Auditor General on the Health Sector for 2020/2021 that was read by Medard Sseggona, Chairperson PAC.

He revealed that the Auditor General noted that a number of referral hospitals had internal control weaknesses in areas such as monthly wage, pension and gratuity performance analysis and remittance of quarterly returns to the Ministry of Public Service as well as weaknesses in payments of salaries, pension and gratuity.

Sseggona told Parliament that while interfacing with 24 entities within the health sector, the Public Accounts Committee noted that these internal control weaknesses are the leading cause of arrears, absorption of wage, pension and gratuity as well as delays in granting clearance to recruit.

He said: “The Committee observed that in almost all regional referral hospitals, this audit query is outstanding and that the Accounting Officers who are medical professionals do not have and or dedicate enough time to the Human Resource and accounting function. This is attributed to their busy schedule in relation to their core appointment of professional service and in most cases they’re Medical Consultants.”

The Committee recommended to have the Accounting Officers strengthen internal control measures by submitting quarterly returns in compliance with the Establishment Notices and ensure that salaries, pension and gratuity are processed and paid through the IPPS in an efficient manner.

“Ministry of Public Service should review the structure of Regional Referral Hospitals with a view to creating a key position of Hospital Planner and also ensure a uniform Human Resource Structure for all RRHs. The Permanent Secretary or Secretary to Treasury should consider appointing non-medical staff as Accounting Officers as opposed to the already-laddened who dedicate little time to the accounting function,” said Sseggona.

Parliament is slated to debate the recommendations and observations in the report before a final decision is taken on the matter next week.

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