Friday August 22 2014

Government is over spending on South Sudan mission, legislators say

By Mercy Nalugo

Parliament- Lawmakers on the Parliamentary defence committee yesterday said government’s expenditure on military operations in the troubled South Sudan is too high.
It emerged yesterday that in a space of three months, the government spent Shs25 billion on among other things; food, fuel, lubricants and clothing.

The minister of Defence, Dr Crispus Kiyonga, appeared before the committee to defend his ministry’s policy statements for this financial year yesterday where he indicated that additional costs amounting to Shs25 billion were provided to the troops between January to March .

Dr Kiyonga said the government may need more money to sustain the army in South Sudan as they await deployment of a regional force to take over.

But MPs protested, observing that the expenditure was on the high side. They pointed out that more than Shs50 billion has so far been spent on the South Sudan mission.

The minister who could not readily provide answers is due to return on Wednesday to defend the expenditure.

He told MPs that he had been called by the President in State House and could not answer their queries immediately.

“Each time we ask you tough questions you tell the committee that the President is going to meet you. That is a way of dodging us and this time you are not going anywhere unless you produce evidence that you are going to meet the President,” insisted Mr Hassan Kaps Fungaroo (Obongi, FDC).

He said the government must provide full accountability of how much money has so far been injected into the operation since some foreign forces have been contributing towards the cause.

Mr Ibrahim Ssemuju (Kyaddondo East, FDC) said: “Parliament cannot appropriate all that money for the government to go and fight wars in South Sudan yet it can do a lot .We should be a country that can save resources to do other important things.

How can you spend Shs12 billion on fuel yet life saving equipment at Mulago cost about Shs2 billion each? This is extravagance.”

The budget break down

Item Amount
Food Shs30b
Operations in South Sudan Shs25b
Fuel land forces Shs9.9b
Fuel air force Shs12b
Classified expenditure Shs85b
Travel abroad Shs2.5b
Treatment abroad Shs1b
Medical (hospital Bills) Shs2.6b
Total Shs170b