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MPs Question State House Shs 23 Billion Supplementary Request

Parliament’s budget committee has raised concern over the Shs 23.1 billion supplementary budget request from State House – less than two months to the end of 2016/2017.

The latest request is an addendum to an earlier request of the Shs 2.9 billion supplementary budget request from State House that was approved by parliament retrospectively.

State House received Shs 257.29 billion for the 2016/2017 financial year under Vote 002. According to the new supplementary budget request, Shs 200 million was spent as capital donation to Isingiro fruit factory and Shs 1.08 billion was given to the Federation of Uganda Football Association (Fufa) for the African Cup of Nationals football tournament preparations.

State House comptroller, Lucy Nakyobe appeared together with the Presidency minister, Esther Mbayo before the budget committee to defend the supplementary budget request.

Nakyobe told the committee chaired by Ntenjeru North MP, Amos Lugoloobi that State House exhausted its annual budget allocation on several recurrent items hence the need for additional funding to settle outstanding obligations as well as facilitate their operations through the remaining period of the financial year.

They include among others utilities such as telecommunications, electricity and water that require Shs 1.2 billion, classified expenditure of Shs 5.028 billion and insurance for the presidential helicopter and jet at Shs 1.4 billion among others.

The others include Shs 2.4 billion spent on Makerere University visitation, Shs 9.55 billion for inland travel and another Shs 3.5 billion for travel abroad.

“We have a helicopter and we have a jet but we only got money for the jet. We did not have the money for insuring the helicopter. We requested for additional funding from the beginning but they did not give us, so it remained an unfunded priority at the beginning of the financial year. But we had to insure the helicopter because it is mandatory.

Then the other issues, it is because of over activity. We did plan, for example, when you look at travel abroad, we planned for 25 visits outside the country, but as I speak we have already done 30 visits so we have consumed five extra visits. So we have already gone overboard… and also got some services on credit. When you look at the state visits we had planned for only 15 and as we speak we have already done 17″, Nakyobe said.

She defended the Shs 9.55 billion additional funding required for the president’s in land travel, saying the money will be used to facilitate local programs and settle fuel bills.

However, the committee members led by the chairperson Lugoloobi questioned whether the items for which State House requires that additional funding were of emergence nature.

Patrick Nsamba, the Kasanda North MP wondered how State House will spend such a huge sums of money in the remaining days of the financial year.

“The law clearly state the circumstances under which we should ask for supplementary, but what am seeing is additional, additional every where. The circumstances under which we should be asking for supplementary are clearly stated; under situations of emergencies, things that cannot wait for the next financial year. Look at item no.5, Mr chair, there is travel inland worth Shs 9.5 billion. So Mr chairman am just looking at the time period vs what is required”, Nsamba said.

Lugoloobi questioned why State House continues to request supplementary budgets even when it receives sufficient allocations. Nakyobe attributed the problem on emerging issues as well as under funding for some items. She explained that as the year closes, they need liquid cash to run State House as they wait for releases for the new financial year.

“The year closes on the 30th of June, but when the year closes, the other one doesn’t open automatically although theoretically is it supposed to, but it doesn’t. By the time you get to receive money for the other financial year, you still have to run because State House doesn’t close.

We’re supposed to facilitate the president at all times, come rain, come shine. So we still have to have some money to see us through that period when books have closed as we wait for new books of the other financial year to open. So it is things like travel inland that where we keep some money because the programs continue”, Nakyobe added.

The officials are expected to return back to the committee on Friday morning to discuss the classified expenditure funding.

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