Financial accountability committees of Parliament will now have a manual to follow as they inquire into how government agencies spend the money allocated to them for service delivery.
The new handbook launched by the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga provides for among others, procedures of handling witnesses appearing before committees.
The committees to use the book include the Public Accounts Committee; the Local Government Accounts Committee and the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises.
While carrying out their work, the committees call or summon various persons that may include Ministers, heads of government departments and accounting officers.
One of the procedures in the handbook is that committees must provide witnesses with a pre-appearance briefing, the agenda and information about the upcoming hearing.
“The committee must also seek to obtain a thorough briefing from the Auditor General on the background and substance related to the appearance of specific witnesses,” it says in part.
Launching the handbook, Kadaga called for the Office of the Auditor General to be given more financial support to recruit additional staff to audit government departments.
“There is still a gap (in accountability process), which should not be blamed on Parliament. We need to support the Auditor General to deliver on their mandate faster,” said Kadaga.
The Auditor General is established under the Constitution to audit and report on the public accounts of Uganda and of all public offices; and is also mandated to conduct financial and value for money audits in respect of any project involving public funds.
The Speaker asked development partners to work with Parliament while designing programmes intended for the institution or its committees.
“Any donors wishing to work with Parliament must first come and we agree on the programme; we must design the programme together, so that we support the country in its efforts to improve and develop,” she said.
The handbook was developed with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) through the Governance, Accountability, Participation and Performance (GAPP) Programme.
It seeks to improve the performance of the accountability committees through defining roles and responsibilities of various actors in the accountability cycle.
Meanwhile, the Clerk to Parliament Jane Kibirige, said the book went through a two-year consultative processes involving legislators and staff of both the 9th and 10th Parliaments, civil society and experts on parliamentary practices and procedures.
“This process has not only ensured a consensual final product but importantly enriched the content,” said Mrs. Kibirige.
Ms Kibirige also pledged full implementation of the handbook as a guide for the efficient and effective discharge of the mandate of accountability committees.