Uganda’s Supplementary Budget Faces Scrutiny in Parliament

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Muhammad Kivumbi

 

Members of the Budget Committee in the Ugandan Parliament expressed surprise as they discovered that the supplementary budget, initially thought to be 3.5 trillion shillings, had escalated to 7 trillion shillings. The Finance Minister, Henry Musasizi, presented the supplementary budget, seeking approval for 3.5 trillion shillings, with an additional 3.39 trillion shillings labeled as necessary for statutory obligations. However, the committee rejected the 3.39 trillion shillings, deciding to focus on scrutinizing the initially tabled 3.5 trillion shillings.

The budget committee commenced its examination of the supplementary budget, with entities appearing before parliament to justify their funding requests five months into the financial year. Committee Chairperson Patrick Isiagi Opolot emphasized the critical nature of the approval, aiming to conclude the scrutiny swiftly ahead of the Wednesday plenary session.

Minister Musasizi outlined the supplementary budget, indicating that it consisted of a 3% legal limit, including 1.574 trillion shillings (Part one), and a prior approval by Parliament of 1.926 trillion shillings (Part 2). Additionally, the minister sought 3.393 trillion shillings to address statutory revisions made under statutory expenditures.

The committee engaged in a debate, with some members accusing the minister of introducing new items that inflated the supplementary request to 7.2 trillion shillings. Concerns were raised about the additional 3.393 trillion shillings allocated for statutory obligations. The minister clarified that it included payments for domestic debt obligations to the Bank of Uganda amounting to 2 trillion shillings, settlement of ICJ court rewards to DR Congo, and refunds to the World Bank, among other commitments.

The committee was perplexed by the minister’s withdrawal of parts of the supplementary budget, particularly the 12 billion shillings designated as arrears to the Association of Money Lenders. The receiver of this amount had reportedly changed from the Association of Money Lenders to the Uganda Consumers Association, leading the committee to question the justification for the request.

Minister Musasizi explained that funds under the 3% allocation, totaling 1.5 trillion shillings, had already been spent, attributing errors in capturing expenditures, such as 100 billion shillings intended for Uganda Airlines but erroneously reflected under the Ministry of Works and Transport, and 188 billion shillings (USD 50 million) under State House instead of the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs.