Members of Parliament on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Central Government have summoned Dr. Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health, and officials from the State House Health Monitoring Unit regarding Mulago National Referral Hospital books of accounts.

Medard Lubega Sseggona, the committee chairperson made the directive on Wednesday during a meeting with the hospital Acting Executive Director, Dr. Rosemary Byanyima regarding the Auditor General’s queries for the last financial year 2020/2021.

One of the queries highlighted by Auditor General John Muwanga is the non-recognition of transfers received by Mulago hospital from other government units worth 3.86 billion Shillings.

“I noted that transfers of 3.86 billion that were received from the Ministry of Health were not recognized in the State of Financial Performance. The receipts were also not reported to the Financial Statements. It was further noted that the funds which were received on the Hospital’s Infrastructure Development Account were transfers from Ministry of Health meant for intern allowances,” reads part of the report.

The audit report also queried payments for non-existent liabilities amounting to 1.47 billion Shillings, misstated transfers to the Treasury during the year by 1.29 billion in the financial statements, absence of a strategic plan approved by the National Planning Authority- NPA, expenditure of 474.4 million on the refurbishment of the MRI machine that was delivered and installed in 2018 and has since never been put to use and others.

Dr. Byanyima told MPs that she could not provide responses to the audit queries since she currently has not yet received access to the hospital computerized accounting system- the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) after the interdiction of her predecessor Dr. Baterana Byarugaba.

Dr. Baterana was interdicted early this month by Atwine who asked him to hand over the office to Byanyima and stay away from the office until advised otherwise.

This according to Atwine was to pave way for investigations into charges against Dr. Baterana by police for abuse of office, embezzlement, fraudulent accounting, and cause of financial loss to the country. Preliminary investigations from the Health Monitoring Unit show that a total of 28 billion shillings cannot be accounted for at the hospital from the last two years.

“I was part of management at Mulago National Referral hospital as Deputy Executive Director but my docket was supervision of clinical services and I don’t have access to some of these documents. And in the absence of the technocrats in that docket as well as the absence of the accounting officer makes me as the Acting Executive Director unable to give responses now,” Dr. Byanyima told PAC in part.

She requested the committee for more time so that the technocrats are given access to the system and as so also goes through the process of becoming an accounting officer since she had received a letter appointing her as such.

“As the head of the institution I have already told my people that we must work with this committee so that we deliver services. The hospital is not closed, and we are working. As I talk, we are running an Ear, Nose, and Throat surgical camp where we are planning to operate on over 100 patients. This is the third day running. We are working with the supplies from the National Medical Stores- NMS,” she explained.

However, Dr. Byanyima revealed that the hospital has stayed any payments due to lack of access to documents and the computerized accounting system but they are trying to fast track the process so that they gain access.

Sseggona said that under Article 163 of the Constitution, they are required to deliver a report six months from the date when the Auditor General submits his report. The audit report in question was received by Parliament on 3rd February 2022.

He urged Dr. Byanyima to fast-track her appointment as Accounting Officer and other staff for them to access the computerized accounting system.

Sseggona also asked Byanyima to forward all the committee letters and the Auditor General’s report to the interdicted Accounting Officer, Dr. Baterana, and inform him that he is required before the committee.

“Give all manner of assistance to Dr. Baterana Byarugaba to help you come up with responses to the auditor general’s queries,” Sseggona told Byanyima.

He also directed that the Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Dr. Atwine and officials from the State House Health Monitoring Unit be summoned so that the committee discusses modalities of giving Dr. Byanyima and the interdicted Dr. Baterana and other accounting officials access to the computerized system under strict monitoring.

Sseggona said that Mulago National Referral Hospital should be run on sound accounting principles and that no amount of compromise will be accepted. He gave the hospital officials a period of one month in which they will return to the committee with responses to the audit queries.

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