The Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities & State Enterprises (COSASE) has tasked accounting officers to comprehensively analyze entity revenue sources and projections at the time of budgeting in order to develop more realistic non-tax revenue (NTR) estimates.
This was contained in a report from COSASE presented by Hon. Gerald Nangoli (NRM, Elgon North County) on Wednesday, 18 October 2023 on the report of the Auditor General on the financial statements of the National Animal Genetic Resourced Center and Data Bank (NAGRCDB) for financial year ended 30 June, 2022.
According to the report, unrealistic NTR estimates at vote level result in unrealistic NTR estimates at treasury level which negatively affects the credibility of the budget.
Additionally, failure by the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to allocate the resources appropriated by Parliament to NAGRCDB resulted in the failure to implement planned activities.
The committee noted that as a result, there was diversion of public funds, contrary to Section 22 of the Public Finance Management Act, which negatively affects the delivery of services and negates the purpose of budgeting.
To this effect, COSASE directed the accounting officers to liaise with the Finance Ministry during the implementation of the work-plan to ensure that funds are released as planned and roll over to unimplemented activities.
Legislators rallied behind the report with many condemning the unrealistic NTR estimates by the Finance Ministry, which they assert, provides a basis for non – declaration of non-tax revenue.
Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa while chairing the sitting implored the Finance Ministry to revise NTR estimates for MDAs appropriately.
“The issue of low NTRs is a result of under projection. This is why MDAs are under performing because the ministry declined to revise their projections. When we are budgeting, let us look into this issue”, he advised.
Hon. David Karubanga (Kigorobya County) said that the ministry had previously absolved itself of the responsibility of setting NTR estimates for local governments and instead, the minister blamed the local governments for under declaring their targets.
A section of MPs called for tougher penalties to be levied on accounting officers.
Agago North Member of Parliament, Hon. Okot John Amos called out the committee for its leniency on accounting officers and opined that cautioning the officers who divert funds only, was simply promoting the vice.
“To be lenient to that level will only be promoting such kind of behavior; let the money be returned to the same vote,” he urged.
Ibanda North County MP, Hon. Xavier Kyooma criticized the accounting officers for failure to incorporate the results from the generational cycle into procurement plans.