KAMPALA – The Ministry of Defence is seeking an allocation of Ugx108.2b to fund the Ugandan troops under the Eastern Africa Standby Force. The deployment is part of the deal signed on September 9, 2022, between President Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo and East Africa Community member states to flash M23 rebels out of Ituri, North and South Kivu Provinces. Burundi, Kenya and South Sudan have already deployed troops under the arrangement, while the Rwandan troops have been ruled out following accusations that the Kigali regime was providing support for the rebels. The Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs Vincent Ssempijja told legislators on the line Committee on Monday that the said Ugx108.2b was urgently needed for Uganda People’s Defence Forces – UPDF to deploy up to 2,000 troops. This money is not provided for in the National Budget Framework Paper for the Financial Year 2023/24. Ssempijja pointed out that among the key tasks for UPDF that had remained unfunded include; the on-going operation Shujja against Allied Democratic Forces – ADF, an Islamic rebel group in the DR Congo which requires Ugx21.5b and the disarmament exercise in Karamoja region dubbed salama kwa wote budgeted to cost Ugx27.5. Further, the Defence Ministry also told the Committee that the Army was facing funding deficits of Ugx39.2b in unpaid medical services to private hospitals, Ugx149.6b for food, and Ugx106.7b for fuel. Overall, the Ministry requires up to Ugx8.7trn. But the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development approved only Ugx3.545trn - creating a deficit of Ugx5.356trn during the financial year. The Committee led by Rosemary Nyakikongoro have since last week been reviewing budgets of the different Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies. So far the army, Police, Prisons, the Directorate of Analytical Laboratory, and the National Identification and Registration Authority -NIRA have been scrutinised.
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