- This has halted the payment of health workers for seven months and running of other activities undertaken by UNICEF in the district
- UNICEF says they tried to pay the health worker’s salaries using mobile money system twice but the challenge comes in mandatory payments such as NSSF and pay as you earn
- One of the health workers affected who preferred anonymity said life has become hard for them for all these seven months
By Elema Robert
Yumbe- Officials from the district have failed to use Shs 8 billion donor funds disbursed by United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to the district bank accounts.
This has halted the payment of health workers for seven months and running of other activities undertaken by UNICEF in the district. Speaking during a budget conference on Friday, Mr Jacob Opiyo an official from UNICEF said Yumbe has low funds absorption capacity as such the funds UNICEF disbursed is lying idle in the district bank accounts.
He said UNICEF supports three areas of health, education and child protection in Yumbe district but said it will not be good if the funds sent are not being utilised to run the activities undertaken by UNICEF in the district.
“We are concerned about the problem but a couple of months ago, we actually tried to pay the health worker’s salaries using mobile money system twice but the challenge comes in mandatory payments such as NSSF and pay as you earn.”
“We have money in the district accounts which will pay health workers up to December which we paid earlier so that they are processed in time. To start exploring another possibility of getting money to pay the same kind of activity when there is still money available is a little bit of a challenge but we are only hoping that this problem would be solved,” he added.
He assured the health workers who missed their salaries that when the problem is solved, they will all get their accumulated arrears.
He added that: “UNICEF has a system where if you have funds that has reached six months without being accounted for, it blocks the district meaning that we can’t pay any more money for any activity with that department so right now Yumbe has reached that level so even if you have money or emergency, we can’t send money now because of those blockages”
One of the health workers affected who preferred anonymity said life has become hard for them for all these seven months that has reduced their morale towards work but they have been tolerating.
“I have been surviving on borrowing for all these months which has accumulated over Shs 800,000. The matter affected me in paying school fees for my followers, rent, other family responsibilities and suspension of my house construction project,” he said.
Amin Clay, the Yumbe district Chief Finance Officer (CFO) said: “It is true that we have about Shs 8 billion in the budget which is locked up in the development fund which is meant to be used for recurrent. We needed the council resolution which is already done and we shall go to the ministry so that the codes are realigned,” he said.
He said they have a lot of money in bank of Uganda and they have already been given the cash limit but they cannot warrant it in wrong codes because they will be worsening the situation. He attributed the problem to Public Budget System (PBS), a newly developed system that has locked the funds from being used.
Rasul Luriga the district Education officer said: “We are blessed for the first time to have received money from UNICEF to supplement our efforts in education sector but it is very unfortunate it coincided with the system. We need to give assurance to UNICEF that we are committed to utilising the funds.”