SIRâ€” I wish to comment on the articles in The New Vision of March 10, page 11, titled â€œMinistry of Defence should work strictly within its own budgetâ€ by E.F. Kahuma and March 11, page 3, titled â€œDefence donors meet todayâ€ by Richard Mutumba.
The articles raised important issues that need clarification. Kahuma stated that the â€œsh90b is meant to purchase new equipment to fight the LRA but not for professionalisation or standardisation of the UPDFâ€. He claimed that â€œthe defence review process doesnâ€™t need urgent attention now as it was scheduled to start in the 2004/6 financial year.â€ Mutumba quoted a source as saying that the Government might be forced to cut other ministriesâ€™ budgets so as to raise the additional sh90b urgently needed by Defence if the donors fail to accommodate the bill.
However, the correct position is as follows:
l The defence review process is complete, with recommendations made, the defence policy extracted and a White Paper for Cabinet ready, moving to Parliament for debate any time now.
l The Defence Review Unit recommended that sh89b for that matter be got to kickstart the process of entirely re-organising the UPDF for the financial year 2004/5.
l The Ministry of Defence recognises that sh90b may not be affordable at once, considering the needs of other government departments in the immediate future. Hence, consultations have been going on with the Ministry of Finance to hammer out a middle road, that would not over-burden the Treasury and the donors, without also endangering the contributions of all government agencies, donors, civil society and all other stakeholders in the defence and security of Ugandans.
l It is therefore not true that the Ministry of Defence has asked or is even asking for sh90b. This is simply the recommendation by DRU, the donor supported project under Defence, but whose recommendations we are trying to implement within rationalised financial constraints of the countryâ€™s other needs.
l The MOD will certainly soon come out with a well considered position and put it to the ministryâ€™s financiers, which as of now, is not yet finalised as consultations are still going on.
l Finally, even the donors meeting has not yet materialised until the internal governmentâ€™s own agencies have reached an agreed position.
Maj Shaban Bantariza
Defence Needs Money But Has Not Insisted On Sh90b You Have Talked Of In Your Paper