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Parliament to curb public borrowing, says Speaker Among

The Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, has reiterated Parliament’s commitment to check public borrowing.

Among said this on Tuesday while receiving the Annual Report of the Auditor General on the Public Accounts for the Financial Year [FY]ended June 30, 2023, from the Auditor General, John Stephen Muwanga.

She stressed the importance of conducting regular value-for-money audits to foster public accountability and reduce unnecessary borrowing.

“As Parliament, we will do our part in ensuring we scrutinise the reports of the Auditor General. We have put a lot of money into the Parish Development Model [PDM], institutions in the name of buying shares, so we need to know how much money we have and how it is performing,” Among said, adding that such audits will help the country spend within their means,” she said.

She added: This will help in public debt; it will help us ensure we reduce the thirst of borrowing and depend on what we have.”

According to the Auditor General’s report for FY 2022/2023, the total public debt as at June 30, 2023 stood at Shs96.16 trn, comprising of domestic debt stock of Shs 43.69 trn and external debt stock of Shs 52.472trn.

Edward Akol, the Assistant Auditor General in charge of Audits said there has been a consistent increase in the total public debt as evidenced by an increase of 107 percent in the five years from 2018/2019 of Shs 46trn to Shs 96.168trn as at June 30, 2023. “This implies that the public debt is growing at a higher rate than GDP,” he said.

The increase in public debt has been attributed to increased government expenditure compared to the domestic revenue to finance the fiscal deficit.

Existence of ghost employees in public service and ghost PDM enterprises were among the key highlights of the Auditor General’s report. The aftermath of the 2023 validation exercise of government employees revealed that government lost Shs 6.72 billion paid to 1,818 ghost employees.

On the other hand, in 68 local governments, 604 beneficiaries in 242 PDM SACCOs had implemented ineligible projects while, in 20 local governments, 53 beneficiaries in 44 PDM SACCOs had non-existent projects.

Among commended the Auditor General Muwanga for consistently and promptly executing his mandate prescribed in Article 163 [3] of the Constitution.

“As Parliament, we are committed to effectively play our role in the public finance and accountability cycle so as to enable greater transparency and accountability in the management of public resources. This report marks the beginning of public scrutiny which I will undertake under Article 163 which has to be done within six months,” the Speaker added.

Every January, parliament receives the report of the Auditor General on the audited accounts of government for the previous financial year. The report contains audit findings on government consolidated financial statements and financial performance of public corporations, state enterprises and companies in which government has controlling interests.

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