The Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (Central), Hon. Medard Sseggona has directed Mulago National Referral Hospital to allow the interdicted Executive Director, Dr. Baterana Byarugaba to temporarily access office.
Hon. Sseggona directed the interim Mulago ED, Dr. Rosemary Byanyima to allow Byarugaba to access the office specifically to facilitate him to prepare responses to the Auditor General’s report for the financial year 2020/2021.
On Wednesday, 04 May 2022, the committee meeting hit a snag after Dr. Byarugaba failed to turn up for the meeting to respond to the audit queries despite several attempts to invite him. This is after Dr. Byanyima expressed inability to respond to the queries on the grounds that she was not in that office during the period under review and that she was barely two months in the new office.
“When we last met on 16 March 2022, we asked Dr Byanyima to get in touch with Dr Byarugaba to prepare written responses and subsequently, appear before the committee. We gave them one month and there was no response. I followed up by way of telephone discussion with the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health who interdicted him and we agreed that he [Dr. Byarugaba] would be allowed access to his office together with his team for purposes of preparing responses to AG queries,” Sseggona said.
He said that several efforts from the committee to have Byarugaba attend the meeting have proved fruitless as the committee races against time to have the Auditor General’s report considered on the floor of Parliament with appropriate actions.
“I have talked to Dr Byarugaba on phone and he says he is in Rukungiri and has not received any invite. I have sought to initiate another administrative effort to have them prepare responses by giving him another opportunity to come to office tomorrow where we shall meet him with a few other people to chat a way forward,” Sseggona said.
He urged Dr. Byanyima who was in attendance to allow Byarugaba access his office to facilitate this process.
“I now direct you [Dr Byanyima] that Dr Byarugaba and his team be given access to the office for purposes of preparing responses because it is time bound and constitutional….If you don’t allow him access to the office, then you will prepare the responses,” he ruled.
Dr. Byanyima said that she has written to Byarugaba asking him to appear before the committee with no response from the latter. She committed willingness to support the process.
“As head of the institution, I tried the means I could to communicate to Dr Byarugaba and at least, I have evidence from WhatsApp that he received the picture of the letter. In my letter, I stated clearly that as an institution, we are willing to give him the necessary support which means that we are ready to give him access [to office] to prepare the report,” Dr Byanyima said.
On 03 March 2022, Dr Byarugaba and two others were interdicted on allegations of misuse of funds, abuse of office, embezzlement and causing financial loss to government. Byarugaba is accused of misappropriating funds totaling to Shs28.8 billion over the past four financial years.