MPs Reject Health Ministry Budget Over Faulty Figures

1653 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Legislators sitting on parliaments health committee have for the second time halted the consideration and approval of the 1.8-trillion-Shilling health sector budget citing inaccuracies in the figures. Pleading with the committee, Minister Aceng apologised for the errors blaming them on the programme based budgeting system that was rolled out by the finance ministry very late in the course of the financial year.

Legislators sitting on parliament's health committee have for the second time halted the consideration and approval of the 1.8-trillion-Shilling health sector budget citing inaccuracies in the figures.
                              
The health committee chaired by Dr. Micheal Bukenya convened this afternoon to consider the sector budget presented by health minister Dr. Jane Aceng. She was accompanied by the ministry permanent secretary Dr Diana Atwiine and directors of all referral hospitals in the country.
                                                        
However, after perusing through the sector's 2017/2018 financial year policy statement, legislators discovered that personnel figures availed by directors of referral hospitals in their presentations differed from those indicated in the budget document.
 
At some point directors indicated poor staffing levels in hospitals while the policy statement indicates that they are fully staffed, an issue that angered Members of Parliament.
 
This forced the legislators led by Judith Alyek, the Kole Woman MP to demand that ministry officials take leave and rectify errors in the budget document.
 
Alyek asked whether the ministry officials go through documents before presenting them to parliament to avoid time wastage.
 
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Pleading with the committee, Minister Aceng apologised for the errors blaming them on the programme based budgeting system that was rolled out by the finance ministry very late in the course of the financial year.
 
She noted that the errors in the system also explain why her ministry delayed to submit the 2017/2018 financial year ministerial policy statement to parliament.
 
Aceng told the committee that factual data was entered in the system by different entities under the health sector but could not be altered in the final document.
 
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However, Juliet Kyatuhaire, a principal economist in the Ministry of Finance noted that even with blame shifted on the new budgeting system, it successfully printed factual policy statements. But she acknowledged that there were many challenges with the programme based budgeting tool.
 
Kyatuhaire said that finance ministry does not own up mistakes carried in the ministerial policy statements since they carry data for individual ministries.
 
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Kyatuhaire's submission angered minister Aceng who said that it is only right for the finance ministry to own up errors caused by the budgeting system rather than pushing the fault on other ministries.
 
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Health committee chairperson, Dr. Micheal Bukenya, directed the ministry officials to work with finance ministry to correct errors and present a new policy statement before the committee on Wednesday.
 
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About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.