Parliament has passed a supplementary budget of Shs 3.819 trillion to mostly stimulate the economy hit by COVID-19 and for security-related interventions.
Of this budget, at least Shs 1.3 trillion was already spent within the 3 per cent legal limit which the government can spend and seek approval later from parliament, while Shs 2.4 trillion is for prior approval by parliament.
Shs 400 billion was approved under the ministry of Defence to meet operational shortfalls, Shs 27 billion approved for the Office of the President to support the work of presidential advisors, settlement of court awards and salaries while Shs 198 billion was provided to the ministry of Health for the different COVID-19 interventions.
The house also approved Shs 100 billion for the ministry of Finance to support small businesses affected by COVID-19 and Shs 13 billion for the contractual obligations under the Integrated Financial Management System as well as facilitate the rollout of electronic government procurement system to 21 entities.
Another Shs 45 billion was provided to the vote as external financing to facilitate the completion of outstanding works for the Albertine region sustainable development project.
The chairman of the parliamentary budget committee Patrick Isiagi Opolot presented the committee report endorsing the supplementary in its totality.
The committee also approved Shs 56 billion for setting up a COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing plant and an anti-tick development project all under State House.
A minority report signed by three MPs including Butambala County MP Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi rejected the supplementary request on grounds that no source of funding was provided, but also that the items listed as urgent now were foreseeable during the previous budgeting process and didn’t need a supplementary.
“Rt Hon. speaker this matter is so critical because it has become an annual event, we changed the budget cycle, Hon speaker, and said that by 30th of May, the country has got a fully approved budget so that by 1st of July, the ministry of Finance has a budget to start with but by 1st of July, the ministry of Finance invokes the provision of 3 per cent. Before they start on the budget, they first consume it, the supplementary. It is abnormal, it is not done in any budgeting process anywhere in any country,” said Kivumbi.
But the minister of state for Finance, Henry Musasizi said that the funding constraints were enhanced by the pandemic which crippled revenue collection.
Musasizi further assured parliament that the supplementary request fully complies with all the legalities entailed in the Public Finance Management Act contrary to what members had stated.
Meanwhile, despite opposition to government’s continued investment in Atiak Sugar factory in Amuru district, deputy speaker, Annet Anita Among said that the money is going to the Uganda Development Corporation and not the Horyal Investment holding company.
Members had raised concern that government’s shares remained static despite government’s continued investment.
The committee approved Shs 108 billion for the sugar factory. She asked the government to look through the concerns raised by the minority report and consider them when making decisions.URN