The Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament has raised a red flag over Uganda’s failure to pay its annual statutory membership subscription to international bodies.
The Committee Chairperson, Norah Bigirwa-Nyendwoha, says that currently, the Foreign Affairs Ministry has accumulated up to 37.06 billion Shillings from non-payment of legal contributions to different international organizations.
Bigirwa revealed that in the current Financial Year 2022/2023, the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development has provided only Shillings 2.49 billion towards the country’s subscription payment leaving a staggering balance of Shillings 34.56 billion.
Bigirwa, also the Buliisa District Woman Representative told URN on Monday that continuous failure by the Government to meet such statutory obligations taints its diplomatic image and strains international relations as her representatives are chased away from meetings.
Buyaga East County Member of Parliament, Eric Musana, noted that there are several international treaties and protocols that Uganda signed such as the East African Community – EAC, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the African Union among others, which are bound by statutory obligations failure which puts the country at stake.
But John Mulimba, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in charge of Regional Affairs attributed the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s underperformance to the non-release of funds to the sector. Mulimba appealed to the Budget Committee to follow the strict implementation of the Appropriation Act, 2021 to ensure all funds appropriated to the Ministry are allocated in a timely manner by the Finance Ministry.
In May 2021, Mull Sebujja Katende, the former Ambassador of Uganda to Ethiopia was elected Chairperson of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, the standing organ of the 55-member continental body charged with the prevention and resolution of conflicts.
To facilitate his activities, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni directed the Ministry of Finance to release Shillings 1 billion but according to the Committee, the money has never been released to date. Uganda is also grappling to honor its obligations to the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), an intergovernmental partnership of 10 Nile Basin countries, namely Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, and Tanzania.
Equally affected is the Intergovernmental Authority on Development – IGAD, an eight-country trade bloc in Africa. It includes governments from the Horn of Africa, the Nile Valley, and the African Great Lakes. In the Financial Year 2023/2024, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is supposed to pay annual subscriptions to international organizations amounting to 32.36 billion but the Ministry of Finance only allocated 6.36 billion, creating a funding gap of 26 billion Shillings.
The Committee is also concerned that despite several recommendations to the Finance Ministry for an upward revision of the current position of Government with respect to meeting her financial obligations to international bodies, the advice has fallen on deaf ears.