Finance Ministry official thrown out of parliament over Shs1.5b mischarge

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Members of Parliament sitting on the Finance Committee have thrown Finance Ministry's Undersecretary Betty Kasimbazi out of the committee meeting over a 1.5 billion Shillings mischarge.

Kasimbazi had appeared before the committee alongside the State Minister for Planning David Bahati to present the ministry's ministerial policy statement for financial year 2018/2019.

However, before their interface with the committee could start, Aruu County MP Odonga Otto raised a procedural issue saying that parliament had recommended four years ago for the prosecution of Kasimbazi over a 1.5 billion mischarge on items which did not reflect the nature of expenditure.

Odonga Otto supported by other MPs including Kumi County MP Charles Ilukor said that the committee could not interface with a person they had found culpable and the ministry failed to implement the recommendation.

According to the 2017 Treasury Memorandum presented to parliament by the finance ministry, the Auditor General in 2013 cited the mischarge of expenditure contrary to the Government Chart of Accounts.

The Government Chart of Accounts defines the nature of expenditure of each item code with the intention of facilitating better the classification of financial transactions and also track budget performance per item.

With the mischarge, the Public Accounts Committee then recommended to Parliament which later approved the recommendation that the accounting officer be held liable for usurping the appropriation powers of parliament.

Parliament further recommended that the official be prosecuted for violating the Public Finance and Accountability regulations.

"Mischarge of expenditure jeopardises and impedes prudent public sector financial management. In essence, mischarge of expenditure impacts on the credibility of the financial statements since the figures reported do not reflect true amounts expended on the respective items," reads part of the parliament recommendation then.

Updating the committee on steps taken by the ministry to implement the recommendation, Minister David Bahati apologised for the omission but said that the ministry had taken measures to limit mischarges.

The Minister's submission angered MPs more and they argued that they could not proceed with the meeting with the presence of Kasimbazi. With the committee turning chaotic, the Chairperson Henry Musasizi demanded that the ministry officials step out for the committee to internally discuss on how to proceed.

On return, Musasizi communicated that the meeting had resolved to send away Kasimbazi and continue the budget process with the other ministry officials led by Minister Bahati.

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