The Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development will extend the penalties given to accounting officers to cover all forms of underperformance.
Earlier this month, the Permanent Secretary, Ramathan Ggoobi, dismissed more than 100 accounting officers, most of the local government officials, after they failed to beat the deadline for submission.
Ggoobi said that the ministry could not release the next quarter’s expenditures to any ministry, department, or agency that has not fulfilled the requirement, which is a way of accounting for the previous quarter.
Ggoobi’s announcement came after Julius Mukunda, the Executive Director of the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group, CSBAG, asked the ministry not to stop applying penalties on only failed submissions of budget details but also to other areas where the officers breach their mandates, like the creation of arrears.
Mukunda said they support the government’s move if there is to be better budget discipline and accountability.
The officers who failed to meet the deadline cited several reasons, including lack of capacity in the district and failure by local government councils to pass some resolutions, among others.
Other leaders attributed the failure to the delayed submission of departmental budgets and work plans at the municipal and district levels.
“We almost presented two different budgets during our council sessions, and so it required the technical team much time to collaborate on the final budget with the drafted work plan.” “Though there is a warning to our accounting officer, it was issued too early since he managed to submit it at the end of it all,” said Mukono Municipal Mayor Erisa Mukasa Nkoyoyo.
The municipality had earlier passed a budget of 17 billion shillings before adding on a supplementary of another 7 billion shillings, making it 24 billion shillings.
Speaking on Tuesday at the release of the Quarter One expenditure, Ggoobi admitted that many accounting officers had reasons beyond themselves and their explanations were valid. He said, however, that there are some who will not be re-instated as accounting officers, though they will retain the offices they were employed for.
“For example, a CAO will remain CAO but will lose the function of Accounting Officer,”
Ggoobi said, adding that they will continue implementing such measures.
The Executive Director of the Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE), Arthur Bainomugisha, condemned the apparent lack of coordination among the Ministries of Finance, the Ministry of Local Government, and the Ministry of Public Service, which he says could affect service delivery.
This came when the ministry of local government indicated that it would not appoint new accounting officers to replace the sacked ones.
He, however, urged the Ministry to also award those accounting officers who performed well, to avoid demotivating them with penalties for those who underperformed.
Ggoobi said that the process is already in place to find the best performers. The process will be handled in conjunction with civil society and the private sector, and this will be done annually.
Ggoobi also admitted a lack of coordination but said they were working on it and that talks with the other officials were going on.
On performance, the Ggoobi warned the MDAs that delayed implementation of projects will no longer be tolerated and that the responsible people will be penalized.
Ggoobi also reiterated that there will be no more supplementary budget except for security or industrial policy, which will also be limited to three percent of the budget as required by law.
Ggoobi said he already has many requests but that he has refused to forward them.
The Quarter One release, which excluded debt, amounts to 4.676 trillion shillings, with wages accounting for 1.6 trillion, while pension and gratuity amounted to 230 billion, arrears of 662 billion, and security agencies, 721 billion shillings.
Ggoobi said that all wages, salaries, and related payments have been covered, including those sectors in which salary increments were made.
He also gave an update on the performance of the economy, saying it has now grown to 162.1 trillion shillings, or 45.7 billion dollars, translating into a per capita income of 1,046 dollars.
This year, the economy is expected to grow above 6 percent.