Defence Ministry Fails to Defend UGX 8.7 Trillion Budget

Parliament’s Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs on Friday turned away officials from the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs from a meeting to scrutinize their Budget Framework Paper following a mismatch of figures.

The unceremonious sendoff on Friday morning marked the second time in two days that the Ministry of Defence officials were being sent away over the National Budget Framework Paper for the Financial Year 2023/2024.

Initially on Thursday, the same officials led by the Defense Minister Vincent Ssempijja were turned away for not availing copies of their documents on time for the Members of Parliament on the Committee led by Rosemary Nyakikongoro to review.

Their initial documents indicated that the Ministry was in need of 6.515 trillion Shillings out of which only3.560 trillion Shillings had been availed in the coming FY 2023/2024. However, soon Minister Ssempijja amended the figure revealing that the Ministry was in need of 8.769 trillion Shillings, and that only 3.545 trillion Shillings had been approved by the Ministry of Finance, creating a deficit of 5.356 trillion Shillings.

Drama ensued when Committee Chairperson Nyakikongoro, discovered that a scrutiny between the Committee and Parliament technical team unearthed inconsistencies in the budget for the Ministry. Consequently, Nyakikongoro tasked Edith Buturo, the Defense Ministry’s Under Secretary to explain the inconsistencies.

Later, this prompted the legislators on the Committee to ask the Ministry of Defence to vacate their room and first harmonise their figures before rescheduling another a third  meeting in the afternoon.

Minister Ssempijja had listed a number of unfunded items that included; wages that require 1.579 trillion Shillings, yet only 617.9 billion Shillings has been availed, creating a shortfall of 961.9 billion Shillings for the Army to grapple with.

The Minister also pointed out that Army is seeking for 314.1 billion Shillings for domestic arrears, 21.5 billion Shillings for operation Shujja in the Democratic Republic of Congo – DRC, and 27.5 billion Shillings for the pacification of Karamoja region but no allocations were made.

Also, medical services remained unfunded to a tune of 39.2 billion which the Ministry hasn’t paid to private hospitals yet 54.7 billion Shillings is needed for the purpose but only 15.5 billion was availed. The Ministry is also seeking for 3.441 trillion Shillings in classified expenditure, but only 2.158 trillion Shillings was availed, leaving another unplugged gap of 1.282 trillion Shillings.

More documents scrutinized by URN further reveal that the Army is in need of 280.2 billion Shillings for food, whereas only 130.6 billion was availed, leaving a funding gap of 149.6 billion Shillings, as well as 106.7 billion Shillings needed for fuel storage facilities but no funds were allocated.

On December 23, 2022, the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development tabled before Parliament the National Budget Framework Paper totaling up 49.9 trillion Shillings.  As required by the Public Finance Management Act of 2015, the House is bound to approve the budgets for different Ministries, Departments and Agencies by February 1.

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