Legislators have tasked Acting Executive Director Mulago National Referral Hospital, Dr. Rosemary Byanyima to fast track her appointment as Executive Director saying a delayed substantive appointment will not only slow services in the hospital and also affect the accountability mandate of Parliament.
This came after Byanyima asked the Committee on Public Accounts (Central Government) for more time to respond to queries from the Auditor General’s Report for financial year ending 30 June 2021.
The Committee Chairperson, Hon. Medard Sseggona said that failure to respond to the Auditor General’s report contravenes Article 163 of the Constitution.
“The constitution requires you to deliver a response to the Auditor General’s report, six months from the date the report is submitted and this particular one was received on 03 February 2022,” Sseggona said.
He asked Byanyima to ensure that her appointment and that of the Assistant Commissioner Accounts and the deputy are regularised to enable the committee carry out its duties as required by law.
He added that he will seek audience with the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Diana Atwiine to give Byanyima and Byarugaba access to financial documents under strict supervision.
“I request that you work with the former ED. Pass all our letters and audit reports to him and also inform him that by law, he is required to give assistance in generating responses to questions. The committee will give you one month to present your responses,” Sseggona said.
Hon. Eddie Kwizera (NRM, Bukimbiri County) said that change in leadership should not affect the operations of the hospital, including accounting for finances spent.
“We are not looking at what was spent today; we are looking at what was spent in the past financial years. We are interrogating the system and not an individual,” Kwizera said.
Tororo South County MP, Hon. Fredrick Angura warned that failure to fast-track the appointment of the ED will plunge the hospital into a crisis.
“You might not be ready now to make your responses but you need to fast track regularisation of your appointment. As it is now, you and your staff are like lame ducks who cannot do much,” Angura said.
Byanyima explained that she received a letter of appointment from the Ministry of Finance on 15 March 2022.
“I am yet to submit my letter of acceptance to make me a substantive accounting officer,” Byanyima said.
She added that she currently has no access to financial documents because when she was Deputy ED, her role was restricted to supervising clinical services.
She added that the absence of the technical accounting officers including the Assistant Commissioner Accounts and the deputy further makes access to financial documents difficult.
“I am asking for more time to enable me to make appropriate responses. I am aware that as head of the institution, I must work with the committee and I am willing to do that,” she said.
She also allayed fears that the hospital is not functional saying that all services are running.
“As we speak now, we are running Ear, Nose and Throat camp in the hospital and we are working with National Medical Stores. The only thing we cannot do now is pay service providers because we do not have access to the system,” she said.
She added that the service providers have running framework contracts, which enables them to provide services.
The national referral hospital has been operating without an executive director for two weeks, following the interdiction of Dr. Baterana Byarugaba over allegations of fraud and misappropriation of funds totaling to Shs28.8 billion for the past four financial years.
Dr. Byarugaba, the Assistant Commissioner Accounts and his deputy were interdicted and blocked from accessing the hospital premises.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance subsequently ordered Dr. Byarugaba to hand over office to his deputy, Dr. Byanyima.