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Auditor General Report shows over shs24b paid to ‘ghost’ gov’t employees

Auditor General of Uganda, John Muwanga

Kampala, (UG): The Auditor General Report presented to Parliament earlier this week for the financial year ending June 30, 2023, has shed light on widespread irregularities in the management of the government salary payroll showing over shs24 billion was paid to ghost employees in the public service.

The report, presented by the Auditor General of Uganda, John Muwanga, scrutinized the financial practices spanning four fiscal years and revealed significant challenges plaguing the payroll system, including wage overruns, payments to non-existent employees, and irregularities in staff payments.

One of the focal points of concern highlighted by the Auditor General was the recurring issue of wage overruns. Despite the Government’s efforts to implement reforms aimed at curbing supplementary requests for additional funds to cover salary shortfalls, the problem persists. This is particularly alarming, given that salaries account for a substantial percentage of all entity budgets.

The Minister for Finance Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) expressed concern in a letter dated November 29, 2022, citing anomalies such as payments for non-existent employees, underpayments, and irregular overpayments.

These financial inefficiencies have prompted entities to seek supplementary funding to bridge the budget gaps, diverting resources that could otherwise be allocated to critical areas.

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To address these challenges comprehensively, the Auditor General conducted a special audit of all salary payrolls across government entities, covering the financial years from 2019/2020 to 2022/2023.

The audit aimed to unearth the root causes of the identified problems and propose remedial measures.

Among the key findings from the salary-payroll audit were the validation of government employees. The audit covered 367 entities, revealing discrepancies in payroll processes.

The report revealed that a total of 358,753 employees were fully verified, while 25,439 were partially verified. Notably, 7,744 Individuals not on the base payroll for February 2023 appeared for the validation exercise, exposing potential inefficiencies in initial payroll setups.

According to the report, 6,307 employees were either confirmed dead or retired by the time of validation. Out of these, 2,483 were removed from the payroll in time, whilst 3,842 were not deleted promptly, and as a result, UGX 23.62 Bn was irregularly paid to them after their exit date.

The report also points out payments on the wrong scales. The comparison of base pay with salary structures uncovered that 81,537 employees were overpaid, amounting to Shs 62.6Bn, and 142,732 employees were underpaid, totalling Shs 78.2Bn.

This discrepancy, attributed to improper reconciliation and integration issues, has financial implications for both the government and affected staff.

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To this, the AG provided recommendations for urgent reforms. This included ensuring that all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) and Local Governments (LGs) process their salaries through the Ministry of Public Service (MoPS) Human Capital Management System (HCMS).

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