KAMPALA -Parliament’s Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs on Friday turned away officials from the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs from a meeting to scrutinise their Budget Framework Paper following a mismatch of figures.
The unceremonious send-off on Fridady – was the second in two days that the Ministry of Defence officials were being turned away over the National Budget Framework Paper for the Financial Year 2023/2024.
Initially on Thursday, the same officials led by the Defence Minister, Vincent Ssempijja were turned away for not availing copies of their documents on time for the Members of Parliament on the Committee led by Rosemary Nyakikongoro to review.
Their initial documents indicated that the Ministry was in need of Ugx6.515trn out of which only Ugx3.560trn had been availed in the coming FY 2023/2024.
However, soon Minister Ssempijja amended the figure revealing that the Ministry needed of Ugx8.769trn – claiming that the finance ministry had provided only Ugx3.545trn – creating a deficit of Ugx5.356trn.
Drama ensued when Committee chairperson Nyakikongoro, discovered that a scrutiny between the Committee and Parliament technical team unearthed inconsistencies in the budget for the Ministry. Consequently, Nyakikongoro tasked Edith Buturo, the Defence Ministry’s Under Secretary to explain the inconsistencies.
Later, this prompted the legislators on the Committee to task the Ministry of Defence to vacate their room and first harmonise their figures before rescheduling a third meeting in the afternoon.
Minister Ssempijja had listed a number of unfunded items that included; wages that require Ugx1.579trn, yet only Ugx617.9b had been availed – creating a shortfall of Ugx961.9b.
The Minister also pointed out that the Army needed Ugx314.1b for domestic arrears; Ugx21.5b for operation Shujja in the DR Congo; and Ugx27.5b for the pacification of Karamoja region but no allocations were made.
Also, medical services remained unfunded to a tune of Ugx39.2b, which the Ministry hadn’t paid to private hospitals yet Ugx54.7b was needed for the purpose but only Ugx15.5b had been provided. The Ministry wanted Ugx3.441trn for classified expenditure, but only Ugx2.158trn was sanctioned – leaving another unplugged gap of Ugx1.282trn.
More documents revealed that the Army was in need of Ugx280.2b for food – but only Ugx130.6b was approved – creating a Ugx149.6b gap; whereas no coin was allocated to the Ugx106.7b needed for fuel storage facilities.
On December 23, 2022, the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development tabled before Parliament the National Budget Framework Paper totalling up Ugx49.9trn.
As required by the Public Finance Management Act of 2015, the House is bound to approve the budgets for different Ministries, Departments and Agencies by February 1.
Additional reporting by URN
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