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Cabinet abandons plans to quit international organisations

By Moses Walubiri

Added 17th January 2020 09:57 AM

The issue of soaring subscription fee arrears for different entities has over the years proved a bone of contention at every budget cycle

Cabinet abandons plans to quit international organisations

The issue of soaring subscription fee arrears for different entities has over the years proved a bone of contention at every budget cycle

The government has abandoned a mooted proposal to drop Uganda's membership to some international organisations on account of soaring annual subscription fees.

According to the ministry of foreign affairs permanent secretary, Ambassador Patrick Mugoya, different ministries under whose ambit diverse international organisation fall were able to successfully defend Uganda's continued membership.

Last year, cabinet set up an inter-ministerial committee to review Uganda's membership to International Organisations across all government entities.

The committee under the overall supervision of the ministry of finance, according to Mugoya received memoranda on the justification of Uganda's membership to different international organisations.

"Uganda is a member of the international community. We cannot live in isolation. It is beneficial to be a member of these international organisations," Mugoya told New Vision on the sidelines of a meeting between the ministry of foreign affairs technocrats and lawmakers sitting on the foreign affairs committee on Tuesday.

The technocrats that were led by state minister of foreign affairs, Okello Oryem were at Parliament to answer queries related to Budget Framework Paper for the next financial year.

The issue of soaring subscription fee arrears for different entities has over the years proved a bone of contention at every budget cycle.

Last year, Nandala Mafabi, the chairperson of Public Accounts Committee mooted the idea of government reviewing its membership to international organisations with the aim of exiting those it deemed inconsequential.

This followed revelation by the ministry of finance technocrats that they often get locked out of meetings of international organisations over Uganda's failure to pay the subscription fees.

Oryem conceded that annual subscription to international organizations "is a real problem."

"It's better that payment be decentralised to different ministries instead of saddling ministry of foreign affairs with this task," Oryem said.

As of 2014/15 financial year, Uganda had sh63b subscription fee arrears. According to memoranda presented to the foreign affairs committee, the ministry of foreign affairs has written to the ministry of finance to prove an additional sh52b in the 2020/21 financial year.

Six years ago, Uganda's attempt to push Isaac Musumba's candidature for Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation was spurned over mounting subscription arrears.

Currently, according to Mugoya, Ahmed Ssenyomo, Uganda's former ambassador to Saudi Arabia is OIC's deputy secretary general following Uganda's decision to pay the subscription.

Meanwhile, Oryem has cautioned Ugandans against relying on people smugglers to go for greener pastures in foreign countries saying his ministry will not offer them anything beyond consular services.

Although he vouched for the idea of labour externalisation saying it's not unique to Uganda, Oryem decried the increasing cases of desperate Ugandans ‘trafficked' by people smugglers burdening mission staff when they get into trouble.

"I have these people with my own eyes, sleeping in lobbies at our missions. But when asked a few questions to ascertain their citizenship, they start complaining that they are being interrogated. Speaking Luo, for example, does not mean you're an Acholi," Oryem said.

The minister, however, passed the buck to the ministry of gender, labour and social development on the increasing cases of mistreatment of Ugandan workers abroad.

According to Oryem, ministry of labour does the licensing of labour exporting firms and ought to make it mandatory for such firms to help those in distress in foreign lands.

With many young people facing the spectre of unemployment, some continue to look at the Middle East as a source of salvation despite harrowing cases of brutality against Ugandan workers.

Government, through the ministry of labour, has tried to improve the working conditions of Ugandan workers through signing a memorandum of understanding with countries taking them in.

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