Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group, Call's Parliament To Reverse Shs10Bn COVID-19 Allocation to MPs

By Pressug Online News Publication

Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group, Call's Parliament To Reverse Shs10Bn COVID-19 Allocation to MPs

SUMMARY: TheUganda'seconomyisprojectedtogrowby3.1percentthisfinancialyear,accordingtotheMinistryofFinance,PlanningandEconomicDevelopment.BeforetheoutbreakofCOVID-19,thegovernmenthadprojectedtheeconomytogrowby6.3percent,butthiswasdisruptedwhenUgandaanditstradingpartnersshutdowntheireconomies,virtuallyhaltingmostoftheeconomic activities.

However the projected growth is on the lower side of the forecast made by the Central Bank at its February 2021 Monetary Policy Committee sitting, of between 3.0-3.5 percent, it is slightly higher than the 2.9 percent growth posted in the previous year end June 2020.

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, like the Central Bank, put hope for faster rates of development in the coming years on how well the country manages the pandemic especially through vaccination, and whether the country will experience more waves. 

Minister Kasaija who was recently launching the National Budget week, a series of events aimed at creating awareness about priorities of the budget and the opportunities it presents to Ugandans, giving more information and clarification on key issues and concerns raised by the public.

It is also part of the Budget Transparency Initiatives that enable the government to interact with citizens on budget related matters.

Previous budgets have been affected mainly by the reallocation of resources along the implementation of already approved expenditures, otherwise called supplementary budgets.

Executive Director Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) Julius Mukunda while speaking to this website www.pressug.com calls Parliament to reverse Shs 10bn Covid-19 allocations to MPs,

The Shs. 10Bn passed through the COVID-19 supplementary Budget?

It's saddening that Ugandan legislators chose to raid the consolidated fund for personal gains at a time when Government is scrambling to borrow funds to address the effects of COVID-19. It should be recalled that the Minister for Finance, on 2nd April 2020 tabled a Shs 1.7 trillion loan request, to mitigate the negative effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the economy.

We think there are more essential items our legislators should be pursuing than personal gains in the circumstances. But Parliament is authorized to appropriate funds, why then are you agitated?

Article 156 of the Uganda Constitution, 1995 gives Parliament the power to appropriate funds presented to it in an Appropriation or Supplementary Appropriation Bills which are prepared by the Executive branch.

This is operationalized by Sections 14 and 25 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), 2015 and we thank Parliament for using this mandate to speedily approve the Supplementary Request for COVID-19.

How the She. 10Bn effectively utilized?

The Government faced with many pressing expenditure requirements to which the Shs 10bn should have been allocated. In the health sector, the Uganda Virus Institute (UVRI) still requires sufficient COVID-19 testing kits, Uganda’s Border points are still challenged by inadequate personnel to man testing, the Personal Protective Equipment for medical workers are still inadequate.

The Education sector is ignored yet it has many pressing needs where class sessions for some pupils and students have been shifted to internet, radio and TV for candidate classes. This strategy is a disadvantage to those children who cannot afford laptops, internet or even a shared radio/TV since in some homes, these are a preserve of the head of the household.

Gender Based Violence is on the rise since the lockdown and addressing it requires adequate financial and human resources which is already a challenge to Government, even other sectors have their detailed needs where resources should be directed.

MPs to share Shs. 10bn?

Our problem has always been prioritizing. Surely this is not the right time for MPs to share Shs 10bn.

If you recall,  URA revenue performance report for the first Half Year of this financial year revealed a shortfall of Shs 697.38bn.

This meant that funds to implement certain planned activities for this financial year are not readily available.

As if that’s not bad enough, COVID-19 emerged rapidly and this requires poor economies like Uganda to exercise prudence in the way they spend every shilling. Legislators need to be seen pushing for spending on areas aimed at rebuilding the economy and protecting the population than vice versa.

What's your stand on the matter?

Reverse the allocation: If the monies have not been disbursed yet, Parliament should reverse this action. In case it has been disbursed to Accounts of MPs, it should be recalled.

Parliament should discuss with MoFPED if they need facilitation for  COVID-19 response. This facilitation should be justifiable and discussed in parliament as required and resolved.

Members of Parliament are representatives of the people and should always ensure their actions represent the views of the people. The public reaction shows that they did not approve of this allocation.
Parliament should guard jealously the safeguards in the PFMA against financial abuse by the Executives.

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