Parliament has tasked accounting officers of national referral hospitals to adhere to set budget guidelines in order to improve service delivery across the country.
This was one of the recommendations by the Public Accounts Committee (Central Government) in its Report following their consideration of the Report of the Auditor General on national referral/regional hospitals and other specialized health votes for the financial year ended 30 June 2022.
The Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Medard Sseggona presented the report during the plenary sitting on Thursday 7 September 2023.
Sseggona said that rampant mischarge of expenditure without the requisite approvals was observed across all the hospitals impeding the realization of set targets.
The Committee established that various hospitals had unauthorized loan deductions from staff emoluments, out-dated staff lists, under-payment and overpayment of gratuity and under-remittance of deductions largely attributed to lapses in payroll management.
The Committee recommended enhanced automation of payroll management and adherence to established guidelines and regulations.
Additionally, the committee also noted that understaffing as a result of limited wage allocations bred by late dispensation of appropriated budget by the Ministry of Finance cut across the hospitals and recommended that Government avails the requisite resources to enable recruitments and solve other financial issues of late accumulated arrears.
During the debate Hon. Samuel Opio Acuti (Kole North) wondered why the challenge of late absorption of funds was still persisting yet Parliament had recommended that money for hospitals is released in the first quarter.
“On the issue of absorption, why can’t funds for recruitment be released within the first two quarters, that is what we recommended last time,” he said.
Hon. John Teira (NRM, Bagubula County North) in reiterated that the issue of late release of funds has been widely discussed in the House, which sought to come up with a policy to guide the hospitals while Hon. Dicksons Kateshumbwa (NRM, Sheema Municipality) called for synchronised planning by cabinet and the Ministry of Finance.
“We allocate money for infrastructure and it is not resourced with equipment. The report needs to give us some policy recommendations that can guide this sector,” he said.
While responding to the issues raised, the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Hon. Matia Kasaija said that Uganda operates a cash economy and that is why late releases are persisting.
He however pledged to present a Treasury Memorandum to address the issues raised in the committee report.