Key officials from Ministry of Trade have today been tasked to explain a 39 million mischarge in the 2017/2018 financial year.
Auditor General (AG) John Muwanga says this amount was used to pay political assistants and security personnel without following proper accounting procedures.
Legislators sitting on Public Accounts Committee (PAC) asked which criteria was used in including these PAs on civil service payroll.
Grace Adong the Ministry permanent secretary in response, blamed this on underfunding which she says makes it hard for them to fund critical activities.
Adong stressed that as a legal requirement, ministers are entitled to personal assistants.
“It is allowed that every minister has a political assistant whom he submits because that person is not already employed in government”, Adong says.
Asked why these were not captured in the books of account, she said ministers dragged their feet in submitting their names to public service.
The Trade Ministry is headed by Hon. Amelia Kyambadde who also is Mawokota North MP, as well as junior ministers Micheal Werikhe and Hon. Fredrick Gume.
An official from the same ministry who did not want his names disclosed told us there are about 20 political assistants on the payroll.
Hon. James Waluswaka the Bunyole West legislator wondered how police guards came to be paid by the ministry yet they earn a salary.
On this, PS Adong explained that these security personnel only earn a set of categorized allowances depending on activities to be undertaken.
This however did not convince Nathan Nandala Mafabi the committee chair, who asked the officials to table their legal defense before the next hearing.
“In the meantime, we need you to provide evidence that it was the ministers who delayed to submit the names. We need you to provide the policy of paying PAs and police men”, Mafabi rules.