The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) – Central Government has directed officials from Arua Regional Referral Hospital to provide a detailed report on different audit queries and concerns raised by Members of Parliament.
The officials led by the current Director, Dr. Alex Andema, and former Hospital Director, Dr. Filbert Nyeko, on Wednesday appeared before the committee to respond to audit queries raised by the Auditor General, John Muwanga, in his audit report for financial year 2020/2021.
MPs raised concerns during the committee meeting about inconsistencies and the lack of evidence produced by the hospital administration to support responses to audit queries.
In the audit report, Auditor General Muwanga noted wrong computations of gratuity and pensions.
He reported that Arua Regional Referral Hospital overpaid 21.7 million Shillings and underpaid 19.7 million Shillings in gratuity.
The audit report also mentions the hospital underpaying pensions by 10.4 million schillings while overpaying some pensioners by 5.79 million schillings.
Dr. Filbert Nyeko, the former hospital director, attributed this to errors made by the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPS), through which gratuity and pension payments are computed.
He told MPs that consultations with systems officers at the Ministry of Public Service are ongoing to have errors of under or over-payments rectified. “Some of the records have since been rectified,” Dr. Nyeko said, adding that actions are being taken to recover the money that was overpaid.
Xavier Kyooma, the Ibanda North MP, expressed dissatisfaction with Dr. Nyeko’s response, noting that it was vague and did not meet the Committee’s basis of evidence-based information.
“I am finding a problem in conceptualizing your responses. When you say actions are being instituted to recover the payments, what shows? Is that enough? When you say the IPPS system sometimes has errors, tell us what happened this time. You are not new to the Accounts Committee, you should have come well prepared,” Kyooma raised concern.
Fredrick Angura, the Tororo South MP, told the hospital officials that there was previously little attention paid to the issue of payments in audit reports, and that this has since been changed to study the matter in depth.
“This is now an area for audit emphasis.” If there has been laxity, then expect a lot of concern in this area. Ensure keen reconciliation as far as payments are concerned, “said Angura.”
The Committee resolved that Arua Regional Referral Hospital officials submit a fresh report with responses and evidence to the different queries on Monday next week.
Basil Bataringaya, the Kashari North MP who chaired the session, warned that if the fresh responses do not adequately answer the audit queries, the committee would take further action.