PAC urges govt to follow loans of  civil servants

MBARARA-Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the Bardege-Layibi Division legislator who doubles as the chairperson of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee [ PAC ], wants government to take a keen interest in the Payroll Deduction Management System [PDMS].

Mapenduzi, whose committee was recently in western Uganda probing officials over 2021/2022 expenditures, discovered unauthorised deductions in the PDMS where civil servants had their salaries deducted without their consent, even after paying all their loans.

“During our [ PAC ]investigations we found that the salaries of some of the civil servants were over-deducted. This happens when somebody picks a loan and pays but the money lenders continue deducting even when somebody has completed payment. That is irregular,” Mapenduzi said.

According to him, the matter has escalated in local governments where loan deductions are made without the knowledge of the chief administrative officers [CAOs] who are the chief accounting officers in the districts.

“We also found unauthorised loan commitments where somebody borrows money with the aid of letters of undertaking authorised by the accounting officer but as they are about to finish paying, they go for other loans without the CAOs’ knowledge.”

Mapenduzi adds with this system, most civil servants abuse the Local Government Act, which says a civil servant cannot borrow beyond 50 percent of what he earns.

“This system has seen many people acquiring more than what they are paid and we want to look at how to regulate it because that 50 percent cap is to help a civil servant not to be overburdened,” he said.

Mapenduzi also noted that there are variances in monthly deduction amounts in active deductions reported in the PDMS and approved reports.

Mapenduzi says that lack of integrity in the system creates an opportunity for manipulation of the deduction, which could result in financial loss to the affected employees.

“In such situations, the lenders continue deducting civil servants’ money even when the CAOs are not aware of any arrangement going on outside the entity. This creates an opportunity for misappropriation of funds through making fictitious deductions as well as over deductions,” he explained.

Mapenduzi, therefore, pledged to take a step in parliament to regulate the ongoing loans among civil servants.

“As a committee, we are going to recommend to parliament a lot of stringent regulatory measures so that any employee of government borrowing money should be fully documented.”

He also recommended that the Ministry of Public Service has to revise the memorandum of understanding [MoU] signed with Uganda Consumer Lenders Association / Uganda Bankers Association [UCLA/UBA] to avoid unauthorised salary deductions.

Responding to the cited queries, the accounting officers explained that they have no control over the management of non-statutory deductions in the PDMS by UCLA/UBA.

“The payroll deductions would be resolved if the local governments do the coding and decoding of deductions but in this system, we have no control,” Assy Abirebe, the city clerk Mbarara City said.

On January 3, 2020, the government represented by the Ministry of public service entered into a service agreement with UCLA/UBA to manage the loan deductions of civil servants.

Under this MOU, all payroll deduction amounts under code 482 are required to be approved by the accounting officers in the PDMS.

However, according to the consolidated auditor general’s report for the financial year 2021/2022, the memorandum of understanding has caused over-deductions and sometimes under-deductions, causing financial loss to both the staff and the government.

Among the affected districts include; Buhweju, Isingiro, Mbarara district, Mbarara City, Sheema Municipal Council, and Rukungiri Municipal Council among others. “I observed that UCLA/UBA deducted Shs 36,430,014 from 271 staff without approval of the accounting officer from the PDMS,” part of the Auditor General’s report reads.

“I also compared the deduction amounts approved by the accounting officer in the PDMs with amounts in the payroll and noted over deductions of Shs 71,584,241 relating to 452 employees and under deductions of Shs 3,824,144 relating to 61 employees. A comparison of the active deductions and my approvals reports in the PDMS revealed that there were variances in deduction amounts” adds the Auditor General’s report.

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