By Joyce Namutebi
The opposition in Parliament has opposed a clause in the Public Finance Bill, 2012 that allows a minister of finance to approve a supplementary budget of up to 10% without prior authorisation of Parliament.
Addressing a press conference at Parliament Building on Thursday, shadow minister of justice, Merdard Sseggona called upon the public to come up and resist this provision saying "government has resorted to making laws that are openly going to facilitate corruption."
The Bill in clause 21(3) on supplementary budgets states that 'the minister may, upon request of an accounting officer, approve a supplementary budget of up to 10% of the appropriated budget of a vote, without prior approval of Parliament." In the current law, Parliament is mandated to approve a supplementary budget of up to 3%.
The Bill's object includes providing for fiscal and macro-economic management, a charter of fiscal responsibility and the budget framework paper as well as roles of the minister and secretary to treasury in the budget process. It also provides for establishment of the petroleum fund and the role of bank of Uganda in the operational management of the petroleum revenue investment reserve.
Sseggona described clause 21(3) as both an open and blank cheque to government. "You are talking of 10% of an amount you do not know. You do not even know who you are going to give this blank cheque." He said this is ‘fundamentally dangerous' to the population.
He, however, clarified that they were not opposed to the Bill but "the dangerous" clauses in the Bill. He said a supplementary budget is a sign of incompetence and it means lack of proper planning. "It perpetuates greed," he added.