The Solicitor General Francis Stoke has told Members of Parliament on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that if government was a private enterprise it would have been bankrupted by interest incurred on outstanding court compensations.
Atoke led a team of officials before the committee this morning to respond to queries in the Auditor General’s report for the year ending June 2018.
The ministry’s statement of accounts shows a mind-blowing Shs663bn in commitments after the ministry was able to clear only Shs72 billion in the said financial year.
On top of that the ministry accumulated an additional Shs135 billion in arrears the same year.
When quizzed by the committee chaired by Hon. Nandala Mafabi on why the ministry continues to pile up these outstanding commitments Atoke stated that his ministry is suffering for the actions of other ministries and departments that cause liability to government through their reckless conduct. He said his ministry only comes in at the tail end when it’s too late to save the situation.
He disclosed that 99 percent of the arrears in his ministry are through breach of contract on multi-billion shilling projects by other ministries.
He told MPs that the best course of action was to make the respective Ministries, Departments and Agencies that cause liability to government to pay the court awards from their own budgets.
Mbarara Municipality MP Michael Tusiime quizzed him on why he didn’t include this in his response since it affects his certificate of compliance. Atoke stated that it is a remedy that is being bitterly opposed by other ministries who insist that it is the duty of the justice ministry to pay.
He, however, revealed that the decentralization of court awards was effected on the 1st of July 2016.
However, he still has to pay the arrears and interest accumulated before this date.
Never the less Nadala Mafabi asked him to segregate the arrears by indicating the various commitments incurred by the respective ministries and departments and present a list to the committee.
Atoke also failed to convince the members on why his ministry spent 206bn in excess of what parliament had appropriated and approved. The committee questioned where the extra money spent came from but there was no straight answer from the accounting officer.