The Local Government Public Accounts Committee hereafter referred to, as PAC is the statutory organ of every District Local Government that is established by section 89 of the Local Government Act, 1997 as amended.
It is part of the effort of government to make the management of public affairs transparent and less prone to abuse by both elected and appointed officers. It is part of the effort to provide checks and balances to the management of local government affairs.
Composition of the LG PAC
The committee is composed 4 members of upright character. The current committee was appointed by the District Council in July 2009 and 4 members commenced work effectively in August, 2009. The current committee comprises of 3 gentlemen and 1 lady.
PAC members hold office for a period of 5 years and are eligible for re-appointment for one more term only.
For PAC to initiate actions there must be a report from either the auditor general, the principal internal auditor, senior internal auditor, inspector general of government or a commission of inquiry into any affair involving finances of the district, or any of its lower local government, or any other report which has an authentic source.
The LGPAC has the power of order. This means that PAC can order any member of the district council, local government officials, suppliers or contractors of the administration to appear before it to provide any explanation on any matter under PAC inquiry.
An instruction by PAC to any person within the council of local administration to appear before it cannot be disobeyed or neglected, unless there is reasonable cause in writing which PAC itself deems acceptable.
Similarly, instructions or recommendations of PAC must be implemented by chief administrative officer or town clerk without exception unless there is reasonable cause in writing that is acceptable to PAC as to why all or part of its recommendations cannot be implemented. Disobedience to PAC is considered part of abuse of office. Where there is disagreement between the PAC recommendation and the chief administrative officer or town clerk, the chief administrative officer can appeal to the resident district commissioner first and later to the minister responsible for local government to stay or rescind PAC’s recommendation. Ordinarily, the decision of PAC supersedes those of chief administrative officer or town clerk.
The town clerk or chief administrative officer or district council or sub-county council or division council is expected to take necessary action. Where miss understanding or other anomalies are exposed by PAC.
Where action is not taken or where the action taken is considered insufficient, then the minister responsible for local government shall take any action that is considered appropriate and within the law and his or her decision shall be final on any such matter where there is impurse.
Reports of PAC
Reports of PAC are usually prepared and signed by its chairperson and all members. They are transmitted to their destination by the clerk to council.
PAC reports are usually made available to:-
– The district chairperson or mayor for information and action
– The chief administrative officer or town clerk
– The resident district commissioner for information and in case of appeal
– The minister of finance
– The auditor general
– The inspector general of government
– The chairman local government finance commission
– The minister responsible for local government for transmission to parliament where it will be examined by the parliamentary session committee on local government or the national PAC and other state organs.
Monitoring and Evaluation delayed release of funds enabled the committee to make only two visits to Kioga and Erute Counties to inspect and monitor projects. Funds with conditionalities weaken the committee to act efficiently and independently.
Some of the committees’ recommendations were implemented leaving a good number of them awaiting implementation by the relevant councils.
Despite the shortcomings the committee experienced in 2005/06 PAC operated normally. It received minimum cooperation from some people summoned to give clarifications on issues under its inquiries. It is, however, absurd to note that a few people still harbour negative attitude about PAC which attitude should be reversed for the better.
– Functions of the committee are clearly spelt out in sections 89 – 91 of the Local Government Act, 1997 as amended and the Local Governments Public Accounts Committee Regulations, 2000.
– Re-appointment of one member to act as a guide to the new members in the implementation of the regulations
– The members have been availed with vital legal documents to aid them in their duties.
– PAC is a statutory body recognised and put in place by the law.
– All the PAC members are trained, experienced and men of high integrity.
– Capacity building opportunities available.
– PAC is protected by law and operatives independently
– Inadequate funding and late releases of funds
– There is no, filling cabinet, cupboards and fans.
– Untimely and at times lack of submission of audit reports by LMC.
– Special investigation reports are not being carried out in accordance with section 175 of Local Government financial and Accounting Regulations 1998.
– Inadequate audit staff and support staff.
– No local revenue funding for PAC.
– Insurgency caused by Lords Resistance Army rebels and Karamojong cattle rustlers in the fourteen (14) out of twenty four (20) sub-counties made it difficult to implement and monitor some of the programmes.
– Political interference erodes PAC independence.
– Delayed releases of funds.