By Umaru Kashaka
Legislators on the budget committee yesterday declined to endorse a supplementary expenditure of sh237b requested by the Government to cater for unforeseen expenditures.
This was during the committee’s meeting with officials from the Ministry of Finance led by the state minister in charge of general duties, Fred Omach.
The committee had earlier heard that the bulk of the funds (sh138b and sh60b for the national identity card project and recruitment of 3,500 Police personnel respectively) were necessitated by forthcoming general elections.
“Sh138b has been provided for the operationalisation of the National Information System (Identity Card) project. The decision was made in the course of the year to implement this project and was duly approved by the Cabinet,” Omach told the committee chaired by Pian County MP Remigio Achia.
He added that sh60b for the recruitment of Police personnel as part of 2016 election road map, will include the computerisation of Police systems, skills development and improvement in the living conditions of the officers.
“We request that you approve this supplementary budget because since the approval of the budget for financial year 2013/14, we have continued to receive several requests for supplementary funding from accounting officers.
However, we have lived up to our promise by minimising supplementary funding by only limiting it to unforeseen expenditures,” the committee said.
For example, he stressed, at 1.69% supplementary expenditure of the approved budget this year is the lowest in the last 10 years.
However, the repeated calls of the minister fell on deaf ears. The MPs said most of the items are not of unforeseen expenditure.
“Somebody is taking this committee for a ride as if we cannot read and understand figures. What is it that is unforeseen about allowances, workshops and seminars, printing and photocopying for example, that necessitated the release of sh912m to the Ministry of East Africa Community Affairs?” Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal asked.
The committee also raised eyebrows at the sh2b required for purchase of 1,000 Ankole cows to restock Ruhengyere and Aswa ranches for conservation and crossbreeding programmes.
“It’s not correct for this committee to be seen to be condoning corruption. How can you tell us that the prices for breeding cows range from sh2m to sh3m and sh1m to sh1.3m for a heifer, yet they are bought at sh600,000 in the market,” Achia protested.
The committee requested the minister to appear again today with the ministers of internal affairs, agriculture and works before they approve the supplementary budget.
“You have failed to give satisfactory answers,” the committee ruled. “Since most of them are of a technical nature, come back with all the sector ministers to answer these queries before we can approve this expenditure,” they added.