Monday March 9 2015

Government asks for an extra Shs800 billion

Mr Matia Kasaija

Mr Matia Kasaija 

By Yasiin Mugerwa

Parliament-Wasteful budget requests such as special meals, welfare, workshops, foreign trips and allowances as highlighted in the new government supplementary request have kicked off a fuss in a new budget dispute over the request for an extra Shs800 billion the government urgently needs to cater for “unforeseen emergencies”.

The new request, if approved by Parliament, will increase the 2014/2015 budget from Shs15 trillion to about Shs16 trillion amid complaints that the money is going into consumptive areas.

In the supplementary request, government would, for instance, spend Shs3 billion on workshops and seminars alone and another Shs4.1 billion on travel expenses.

Opposition members have, however, criticised the latest cash request as “a political supplementary request” intended to help the ruling party raise cash to finance its campaigns.

“This supplementary request is suspect. What has been paraded as money for travel abroad, workshops and seminars could be money for campaigns,” said Mr Gerald Karuhanga (Youth Western).

The Budget Committee is expected to convene later this week to start scrutinising Mr Matia Kasaija’s maiden cash request as Finance minister designate.

The rising figures
Even before his swearing-in, Mr Kasaija last week requested for Shs847.2b up from the Shs237 billion requested in 2013/14 financial year.

As a rule, supplementary budgets should be a result of unforeseen actions such as natural disasters. However, in some instances, ministries have asked for more funds in the course of a financial year to deal with recurrent costs such as salaries.

Explaining what looks like a policy-reversal on wastage, ministry of Finance spokesperson Jim Mugunga said: “As a policy, there was an across-the-board hold on non-core international travels and workshops. This was meant to manage available resources then. It does not necessarily make workshops and travel unnecessary in functions of government.”

Deputy NRM spokesperson Ofwono Opondo said the NRM party does not get campaign cash from the Treasury and described Opposition accusations as “cheap political games”.

ymugerwa@ug.nationmedia.com

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