The Public Accounts Committee (Central) was forced to send away officials from Lira Regional Referral Hospital for failing to produce documents to support their responses to the Auditor General’s report of the financial year 2020/2021.
The hospital officials led by the Director, Dr. John Stephen Obbo appeared before PAC (Central) on Wednesday, 29 June 2022 but failed to present the financial statements, budgets and other key documents the committee had requested in an earlier meeting.
The Vice Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Asuman Basalirwa said that when they met in the team from Lira in May, they had five queries that needed to be considered but the responses were unsatisfactory.
“The queries included non-submission of wage estimates to the Ministry of Public Service payment of salaries, pension and gratuity,” Basalirwa said.
Basalirwa added that the hospital failed to absorb funds to a tune of shs1.5 billion with other queries on over and under payment of salaries. “The Auditor General noted that there was underpayment of about Shs19 million and a variance in the amounts on the payroll and the amounts to individual pensioners leading to over payment of over Shs220 million,” he added.
Kashari North Member of Parliament, Hon. Basil Bataringaya was dismayed that the accounting officers from the hospital could not provide the necessary documents to support their submissions.
“I am surprised that you did not know that financials are needed. I don’t know why he has come here; we would not need you if we didn’t need financial statements. Given that there are serious queries, we cannot assume that you are holy,” Bataringaya said.
Tororo District Woman MP, Hon. Sarah Opendi said Lira Hospital officials acted as one who goes to the garden without the proper farming tools.
“Even when people go to the garden to dig, you know that if the place is bushy you carry a panga; you don’t just move with a hoe. I am wondering whether it is negligence, intentional or an oversight by the officers,” she said.
MPs noted that the hospital officials were taking the committee lightly prompting Basalirwa to adjourn the meeting prematurely for the officials to produce the required documents.
“I want you to work with your accountant and have those documents and come here tomorrow at 11am,” said Basalirwa.
He further reiterated that if the Lira team fails to produce the required documents, the committee will invoke its powers and revoke the transfer of the hospital director. The committee had earlier learnt that the Dr. Obbo is up for transfer.
“Should responses be unsatisfactory again, this committee can write and defy your transfer until the concerns of this committee are addressed. The committee cannot allow you to go to another station when where you are coming from there are other issues unresolved,” Basalirwa said.