Kampala. The deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Jacob Oulanyah, has warned that the fight against corruption in government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) may not yield tangible results if the oversight committees keep interrogating every public official queried by Auditor General.
Mr Oulanyah said the parliamentary accountability committees spend a lot of time investigating public officials queried over small amounts of money instead of concentrating on those who steal hefty sums.
The deputy Speaker who was yesterday opening a two-day Accountability Sector Joint Annual Review (ASJAR) for the fiscal year 2017/18 in Kampala, said the committees have always caused delays by interrogating every query.
“The Auditor General submits reports on time, but we have a problem in Parliament. The committees want to interrogate every query to the extent that even a query of Shs200,000 in Omoro, they want to go there,” he said.
The oversight roles of Parliament in checking the public expenditure is carried out by the Public Accounts Committee which deals with the MDAs and the Local Government Accounts committee that handles district audit queries.
He said there is need for these committees to identify queries involving big amounts of money, handle them swiftly and present reports on the floor of the House so that action is taken on any culpable officers before they leave office. “But if you want to shake everybody, you will shake nobody because accounting officers who were in office (in the audit year) may be also sitting with us in Parliament by the time an audit report is handled,” Mr Oulanyah said.
He challenged the participants in the ASJAR to identify weak policies that have led to slow rate of fighting corruption so that they can be reviewed. Mr Reagan Okumu who chairs the Local Governments Accounts Committee, however faulted the Auditor General for not focusing on projects and government services where big chunks of money was spent.
“The most important thing is that the Auditor General should be the one to focus on the big fish but if the Auditor General goes for small fish… the office of the Auditor General has failed to focus on serious issues but for us we don’t work on our own, we act on their reports,” he said.
According to the ASJAR report, the fight against corruption scored 26 per cent in the 2017/18 financial year against the regional target of at least 50 per cent.
The Sate minister for Planning, Mr David Bahati, said government is committed to fighting corruption, adding that the vice is not only in the accountability sector but across the board.
He said that as a way of curbing corruption in procurement, the government will next month table a bill to amend the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDA) Act, 2003.