The Public Accounts Committee (Central) has dismissed administrators of Arua Regional Referral Hospital over inconsistent responses to the Auditor General’s report for the financial year 2020/2021.
The hospital leadership appeared before the committee on Wednesday, 27 July 2022 and was tasked to provide a detailed report on concerns raised by MPs by Monday, 01 August 2022.
MPs on the committee cited the absence of evidence to some of the responses given by the Arua hospital administrators.
The Auditor General observed that during the period ended June 2021, there were wrong computations of gratuity and pensions.
The report noted that Arua Regional Referral hospital overpaid shs21.7 million and underpaid shs19.7 million in gratuity.
The hospital also underpaid shs10.4 million in pension benefits, but made shs5.79 in over payments to some pensioners.
The former hospital Director, Dr. Filbert Nyeko attributed this to possible errors made by the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPS) through which gratuity and pension payments are computed.
“Consultations with systems officers at Ministry of Public Service are ongoing to have errors of under/over-payments rectified. Some of the records have since been rectified,” Dr Nyeko said.
He added that actions are being taken to recover the money that was overpaid.
The Auditor General also cited underpayment of salaries in the audit period amounting to shs14.67 million.
Dr. Nyeko said this was caused by the interdiction of some staff members, adding that according to policy, only half of their salary was remitted to them.
He also pointed out other staff members faced the hospital’s Rewards and Sanctions Committee over indiscipline.
Dr. Nyeko explained that Okello Jimmy, an orthopedic officer was interdicted on 23 July 2020 over extortion and solicitation of bribes from patients.
According to attachments presented to the Committee, the hospital also interdicted two security officers – Bismark Paul and Micheal Remijio, on 13 April 2021, over negligence which resulted in the theft of hospital ambulance.
Hon. Stella Atyang (NRM, Moroto) wondered if investigations were conducted following the interdiction of the security guards to avoid future loss of hospital property.
“I’m wondering whether in spite of interdiction, they went ahead to do an in-depth investigation as to why the thefts are going on so that they are not repeated,” noted Hon. Stella Atyang (NRM, Moroto).
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Tororo District Woman MP, Hon. Sarah Opendi advised the hospital administration to install more CCTV cameras across the facility so as to improve vigilance.
“Theft can only end when you dismiss or send away such staff from the Regional Referral Hospitals. The mere fact that they were mentioned, even if they were acquitted shows they could have had a hand in the act,” Opendi said.
Hon. Xavier Kyooma (NRM, Ibanda County North) expressed dissatisfaction with Dr Nyeko’s response, noting that it did not meet the Committee’s basis of evidence-based information.
“I’m finding a problem in conceptualizing your responses. When you say actions are being instituted to recover the payments, what shows? Is that enough?” Kyooma asked.
He added, “When you say the IPPS system sometimes has errors, tell us what happened this time. You [Nyeko] are not new to the Accounts Committee, you should have come well prepared.”
Tororo County MP, Hon. Fredrick Angura urged the hospital administrators to pay more attention to reconciliation of salary payments, saying that more focus is now being put on the issue.
“This has now been adopted as an area for audit emphasis. If there has been laxity, then expect a lot of concern in this area. Ensure keen reconciliation in as far as payments are concerned,” Angura said.