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Committee rejects 2015/16 budget accountability again

By Moses Mulondo

Added 22nd February 2017 02:48 PM

The minister was tasked to explain why nearly all the ministries performed below the expected targets

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(L-R) Minister of State for Planning, David Bahati and Kenneth Mugambe appearing before the Budget committee. Photo by Miriam Namutebi

The minister was tasked to explain why nearly all the ministries performed below the expected targets

The Parliament’s budget committee has for the second time rejected a presentation from the Ministry of Finance on how the sh23.9trillion Parliament appropriated for the 2015/16 national budget was utilized.

The State Minister for Finance David Bahati had led officials with a summary report of 13 pages to explain how the money was utilized.

Bahati was last week sent away over what committee members tagged an empty presentation without the real accountability they had wanted to see.

The Public Finance Management Act which was assented to in February 2015 created a new measure in section 18 which requires the finance ministry to present an accountability report on how public funds in the national budget are utilized as an intervention for promoting more accountability.

"We expected to see how the money we gave you was utilized. Why are you hiding state house and the office of the president? For the 24trillions we gave you to give us this is an insult. You have to properly account for public funds" Dokolo woman MP Cecilia Ogwal said.

"The minister has mastered the art of dodging key questions. If URA collected sh11.3trillion, give us a breakdown of where that money came from. How much did each entity get out of the sh11.3trillion. All these details are lacking" Aruu County MP Odonga Otto said.

West Budama North MP Richard Okoth Othieno tasked the minister to explain why nearly all the ministries performed below the expected targets.

"The ministry of works performed at 66%, agriculture performed at 70%, the ministry of water and environment performed at 61%. The education ministry performed at 74%. The health ministry performed at 71%.  Where is the problem that all ministries are not fully meeting the targets," Othieno stated.

Usuk County MP Peter Ogwang said, “I agree with Othieno. Releases and performance don’t match.  We don’t see the impact of money in the budget on the ground in our constituencies. My area has now been hit by drought and famine by 100% and by people are dying of hunger. For me I need food and planting materials for at least the next four to five months.”

In his presentation, the minister said its necessary for better service delivery which included strengthening monitoring and supervision, improved communication within state agencies, and compliance to procurement laws.

In the works and transport sector, the minister said the challenge of inadequate road equipment for districts will soon cease to be a problem because government has procured road construction equipment from Japan which will be delivered in April this year.

Bahati suggested to the committee to summon various ministers and heads of other state institutions to give accountability to the committee on how they used the money allocated to them in the previous financial year.

“What we appropriate is not what the ministry of finance releases and we think that as parliament we are wasting this in the budgeting process. Many businesses are collapsing because government has failed to pay what it owes them” trade committee chairman and Fort Portal Municipality MP Alex Byarugaba said.

The budget committee in its report for the 2017/18 budget noted that the sh110b government has proposed to allocate to clear part of the total bill of sh1.7trillion in domestic arrears is too little and that more money should be allocated.

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