Ministry of Defence Struggles to Justify Ugx 20bn Umeme Bill

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In short
The committee chaired by Serere Woman MP Alice Alaso tasked Byengoma to explain how her docket spent the amount in a single year yet records also indicated that Ugx 40 billion was spent for a combined four financial period prior to this.

Ministry of Defence Permanent Secretary Rosette Byengoma could only afford an apology to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of parliament after failing to explain how the ministry accumulated power bills totalling to Ugx 20 billion during the financial year ending June 2013.

The auditor general queried the Ugx20billion bill submitted by defence as Umeme arrears without supporting documents.

The committee chaired by Serere Woman MP Alice Alaso tasked Byengoma to explain how her docket spent the amount in a single year yet records also indicated that Ugx 40 billion was spent for a combined four financial period prior to this.

Committee chairperson Alice Alaso accused Byengoma of deliberately failing to provide the verification documents to the auditors so as to mislead parliament.

But in response, Byengoma observed that; “It took a long process to collect information on Umeme, right from the Division to the tactical headquarters in Mbuya. We didn’t want to give auditors unverified information.

Byengoma also told parliament that she had on several occasions called Umeme administration to reconcile the bills but have never responded.

Defence commissioner in charge of Accounts Benon Tumwesigye was unconvincing to the MPs when he explained that the arrears were gained cumulatively.

“When we get money we pay it against the outstanding balance, in every financial year we are given Ugx7.3billion for electricity so Ugx 20 billion is just an accumulation from the previous one,” Tumwesigye said.

But Budadiri West MP Nathan Nandala Mafabi tasked Byengoma and Tumwesigye to providing documentary proof for the reconciled figures.
 
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Separately, Ibanda woman MP Margaret Kiboijana tasked the permanent secretary to explain how the National Water arrears shot to Ugx2.3billion.

“It seems the permanent secretary doesn’t know what she is doing. What are you paying and what is the outstanding balance? We need verification of these things,” Kaboijana said.

The permanent secretary said there is a joint reconciliation exercise with NWSC to establish the accumulated debt expected to finalise by end of September.