By Francis Emorut
Members of Parliament have clashed with minister of finance, Maria Kiwanuka, over government rushing them to approve loans when projects are not implemented.
Kigulu South MP Milton Muwuma was candid and told the minister and finance technocrats that the country was being mortgaged due to excessive borrowing and wondered how the children of the current generation would be able to pay.
“Our country is being mortgaged. We are paying interests in these loans. What are we leaving for our children?” Muwuma asked.
The lawmaker told the minister that pushing them to pass loans was detrimental because the majority of the projects are not implemented and besides the children will suffer to pay back the loans.
The chairman of finance Parlaimentary committee Robert Sebunya (right) talks to the director of economic affairs in the ministry of finance, Lawrence Kiiza (left) and the coordinator of Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) Julius Mukunda during the breakfast meeting with ministry of finance officials and MPs at Kampala Sheraton Hotel. Photos/ Francis Emorut
Muwuma cited a loan that was approved by Parliament in 2011 for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of technical institutes for example Iganga Technical Institute from the Korean Government and rural electrification loan approved in 2009 to connect power lines in Mayuge district that are all in vain.
“This business of rushing MPs to pass loans is not good when the project is not implemented,” he said.
He was supported by Mukono North MP Peter Bakaluba Mukasa who said it was not good to put pressure on MPs to pass loans.
“Government always goes for loans and you don’t have to pressurize MPs to approve the loans because of the absorption rate is high and projects are sometimes not implemented,” Bakaluba said.
Bakaluba tasked the minister to explain the stalemate of Mukono-Katosi road scandal where over sh24b was paid to a ghost contractor.
“Our people are suffering because the work has been stopped what’s going on?” Bakaluba asked.
Mukono North MP Peter Bakaluba addressing participants during the breakfast meeting with ministry of finance officials, civil society organisations and MPs at Kampala Sheraton Hotel.
The minister hit back at the MPs saying they shouldn’t go personal but should appreciate that government is doing a commendable job.
Kiwanuka rebutted the lawmakers’ concerns on excessive borrowing saying that Uganda was the least indebted country in East Africa region.
“Over 90% of the debt is on concessional terms. Grace period of repaying the loans is 20-40 years,” Kiwanuka informed legislators and members of the civil society organizations.
On rushing MPs to approve loans the minister said that it was the responsibility of her ministry to ensure that government projects are funded and appealed to MPs to always support her.
She admitted that there was a problem of implementation and asked civil society organizations to help monitor government’s projects to ensure that they are done well and on time.
The MPs and minister made remarks during a breakfast meeting with the Parliamentary committee on finance, civil society organizations and finance officials.
The breakfast meeting held on Friday at Kampala Sheraton Hotel was organized by Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group aimed at harmonizing the 2014/2015 Budget before Parliament approves it.
About Mukono-Katosi road the minister told the audience that it was her ministry that swung into action by stopping any disbursement.
“We immediately swung into action and called the IGG and stopped disbursement,” she said.
She noted that the watchdog is now doing her job before the work should resume.
MPs present at the breakfast meeting included the committee chairperson Robert Ssebbunya, Santa Okot (Pader), Stephen Mukitale (Bulisa) and Mathias Nsubuga (Bukoto west) and director of budget Kenneth Mugambe and director of economic affairs Lawrence Kiiza.