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MPs reject sh115bn meant for Ministry of Education project

By Mary Karugaba

Added 5th April 2016 11:17 AM

Presenting the project funds to the Budget Committee for approval on Monday, State minister for Finance and Planning, David Bahati said although the project implementation started in 2015, the funds were not included in the budget.

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(Left - right)The Minister of State for Higher Education, Science and Technology Sandy Stevens Tickodri-Togboa, Ministry of Finance Commissioner Budget Policy, Godwin Kakama and State Minister of Planning, David Bahati discussing while appearing before the Parliamentary Budget committee on April 4, 2016. Photo/ Mary Karugaba.

Presenting the project funds to the Budget Committee for approval on Monday, State minister for Finance and Planning, David Bahati said although the project implementation started in 2015, the funds were not included in the budget.


The implementation of the Ministry of Education Support to Higher Education, Science and technology sh115b project hangs in balance after the MPs rejected the proposal by the ministry to approve the expenditure as part of the supplementary budget.

The MPs on the Budget Committee scrutinizing the supplementary budget argued that the project items do not constitute emergency funding and therefore should wait for the next financial year 2016/17.

Presenting the project funds to the Budget Committee for approval on Monday, State minister for Finance and Planning, David Bahati said although the project implementation started in 2015, the funds were not included in the budget.

“By the time the donors approved the money in July 2015, government had already passed the budget and therefore could not adequately provide for the planned activities,” he said.

The project is meant to benefit six public universities and two degree-awarding institutions, ensuring that ICT equipment and networks are available to the eight targeted institutions.

Under training, a total of 129 academic staff at PHD level and 66 non-academic staff are already in their second year of study. A number of non-residential buildings at the Universities are under construction and renovations of old structures are ongoing.

Bahati accompanied by State Minister of Education, Science and Technology Prof. Stephen Stevens Tickodri-Togboa  told MPs on the Budget Committee that out of the total budget of sh126.9b, sh11bn was provided in the financial year 2015/16 leaving a funding gap of sh115b. The Project is financed by a loan from African Development Bank (ADB).

Of the total amount, government is supposed to contribute sh7.9b as counterpart funding. According to the documents submitted to the committee, staff training which should have commenced in the budget of 2014/15 financial year has not been done on account of lack of money.

During the meeting, the MPs wondered whether the request fits the definition of a supplementary budget.

“I sympathize with the new minister (Tickodri-Togboa). I don’t know whether he knows what a supplementary budget means and whether his request falls under supplementary. Supplementary budgets are meant for covering unforeseen and unavoidable expenses.” MP Cecilia Ogwal pointed out.

 This prompted the rest of the members to ask the ministers to explain whether the project items which as staff training, workshops and seminars, construction of non-residential buildings, scholarships and related costs were part of the unforeseen activities.

“This is a project that started in 2015. How emergent is it now that we have to approve sh115b? What will happen if we waited and include it in the next financial year’s budget,” MP Fox Odoi asked.

He was supported by retired Col. Fred Mwesigye, Peter Ogwang, Amos Lugolobi and Eddie Kwizera.

“I don’t think this should be approved now. The expenditure should wait for the next financial year,” Kwizera said.

 Tickodri at first tried to defend the expenditure but later admitted that from the definition of the supplementary, there is a problem.

But when Bahati realized that he was losing the battle, he requested the committee for more time to provide extra information.

“Members we need this money approved. It was not put in the budget because we dint know whether the Bank would give it to us. But if the committee is not satisfied with the explanation, give me more time to provide extra information,” he said.

 

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