Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Museveni to Mbabazi, clean up government payroll By EMMANUEL GYEZAHO Posted Thursday, August 23 2012 at 01:00 In Summary Premier has one month to rid government payroll of ghost workers, estimated to cost Shs70 billion annually KAMPALA President Museveni has ordered a clean-up of the government salary and pension payroll after a recent forensic investigation by the Auditor General’s Office revealed that the Ugandan taxpayer loses as much as Shs70 billion annually in payments to ghost workers. The directive is detailed in a July 11 letter Mr Museveni wrote to Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, expressing his frustration at the failure by government accounting officers to detect and halt these irregular and possibly fraudulent payments. Mr Museveni handed down a one-month period, which has since expired, however, to all accounting officers in which to clean the salary and pension payroll, short of which he ordered punitive action including outright dismissal from office and non-renewal of contracts for any officials whose payroll is found with ghosts “after this period.” Auditor General John Muwanga, whose office published the forensic audit that revealed among others the presence of an estimated 4,000 ghosts on the government payroll, told this newspaper yesterday that “about four or five ministries” out of the 28 full Cabinet ministries, have so far submitted evidence of heeding the presidential directive. “We are still waiting for more,” said Mr Muwanga. “They are just trickling in and we are lining ourselves. We cannot start until we have got a good critical mass.” Mr Museveni wrote that he found it “appalling” that despite issuing a presidential directive for a clean-up on August 5, 2005, nothing has been done to correct anomalies that have left the government losing billions of shillings, money he said could have been better spent improving the salaries of scientists and teachers. Share This Story “This is a manifestation of failure by accounting officers as financial managers to manage their payrolls or outright corruption,” wrote Mr Museveni. He directed Mr Mbabazi to personally supervise the exercise and “ensure that it is concluded timely and the culprits are disciplined.” This newspaper was unable to obtain a comment from Mr Mbabazi by press time despite repeated efforts. OPM speaks However, Mr Pius Bigirimana, the permanent secretary in the premier’s office, deflected any responsibility over questions as to just how far their office has gone in implementing the presidential directive. “For us we finished at the Prime Minister’s office. We sorted ourselves out and we have no ghost people,” he said. “You need to ask Public Service [ministry] to tell you who has submitted or not.” The Public Service ministry said yesterday that while it disputes the findings of the Auditor General’s forensic investigation, a decision was taken last month to delete more than 10,000 teachers off the payroll. “We did what was required and cleaned the payroll,” said Ministry spokesperson Jonas Tumwine. “We went ahead and deleted about 10,000 teachers in the month of July and now the teachers are up in arms.” Yesterday, the Uganda National Teachers Union said in a statement that as many as “30,000 teachers” had not received their salaries for July and reported “massive deletion of teachers from the payroll.” Mr Tumwine suggested that the decision to delete names from the payroll was deliberate and one that would vindicate his ministry in disputing findings of the audit. He said in issuing the presidential directive, Mr Museveni could have been misguided by audit findings he said were not representative of actual facts on the ground because “auditors first of all only sample and they don’t go everywhere.” “For example, at Mulago Hospital you have people working on night shift but when the auditors come and find no one during the day, they say those are ghosts,” said Mr Tumwine. “People do not know that the payroll is dynamic and diverse.” He said personnel officers should continually update government payrolls to record staff who have either passed on or been transferred to validate records and weed out ghosts.

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