PIC: PIC: NITA director e-government services Peter Kahiigi and NITA official Vivian Dambya appear before the ICT committee of parliament. (Credit: Maria Wamala)
KAMPALA - Parliament's committee on ICT has directed the finance ministry to pay the National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U) a total of sh7.4bn that its agencies have failed to pay for the last two years as internet fees.
Committee chairperson Paula Turyahikayo made the directive following a revelation from a team from NITA-U that appeared before the committee that they are failing to conduct some of the services due to lack of operation funds.
"Ministry of Finance must ensure that all funds from MDAs that haven't paid up are consolidated and that money given to NITA-U to carry out its work because they have to deliver services," said Turyahikayo.
MDAs are the ministries, agencies and departments of goverment.
The authority supplies internet services to about 100 MDAs, of which some are paid for directly by the finance ministry and others pay for themselves.
Out of these, about 57 haven't paid yet, leading to the accumulation of the figure to about sh7.4bn, according to information from NITA-U.
The money in question is to help the authority continue with the expansion of e-government services as per the requirement of NITA-U, in addition to making sure that the country is connected to the National Backbone Infrastructure.
The team led by the director of e-government services Peter Kahiigi told the committee that they have tried engaging some of the agencies but many have not responded.
"We are now turning into debt collectors and yet they committed that they were going to pay. We have been trying to convince them to pay: others promise, some give reasons and ask for time and yet they have already consumed the services," said Kahiigi.
The effect on the authority, according to Kahiigi, is that they cannot pay some of the service providers for internet, adding that since Uganda doesn't make internet, it is imported at a fee.
"We are getting into bad books with our suppliers for some of these services. This is going to be hard to convince them to supply without cash at hand but also cannot use the money allocated to the authority."
Before taking up the internet services, MDAs enter into an agreement with the Authority although most of these only sign for the capacity based on the money in the budget and not the capacity of internet required by the institution, explained Kahiigi.
He however said that much as there are penalties like terminating the services, it is still hard for this to be enforced because these are government agencies.
"But we don't want to go that way since we are all government, we are trying to negotiate and until they can pay up."