Government has requested for Shs60b to buy CCTV cameras as part of a Shs900b supplementary budget for ‘emergency spending’ to close the funding gaps in the various ministries and agencies.
Recurrent funding gaps as well as what some lawmakers have called, ‘wanton budget indiscipline’ in government and ‘weak commitment control systems’ have however, dented service delivery in all sectors of the economy, plunged millions into poverty and worsened crime in the country.
Although police authorities are determined to install the cameras in Kampala and other major towns to curb insecurity in urban areas, some legislators think the procurement of CCTV cameras is not a remedy to the current insecurity in the country and have asked authorities to fix all the cracks in police and other security agencies, including a purge of all suspected criminals in security agencies.
President Museveni has been pushing for the procurement of CCTV cameras to beef up security in the country following high-profile murders by daring criminals who vanish without trace.
Spate of murders
Mr Museveni’s push for the installation of the CCTV cameras stems from a cocktail of unexplained murders in the country.
For instance, the brutal murder of Muslim leaders, Senior Principal State Attorney Joan Kagezi who was shot dead by unknown people in what police said was a planned assassination, and Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi, who was killed alongside his body guard, Kenneth Erau and driver Godfrey Wambewo on March 17 last year.
The murder of Susan Magara, a 28-year- old cashier at Bwendero Dairy Farm, which is owned by her father John Magara, a prominent businessman in Bunyoro sub-region, appears to have triggered the latest push for spy cameras.
She was kidnapped in Mengo, Kampala on February 7 and her captors were reportedly paid a ransom of Shs700m but still they chopped off her fingers and later kill her. Her body was discovered on the outskirts of Kampala on February 27.
Ministry of Internal Affairs officials say the ICT ministry will be in charge of evaluating the quality of the cameras while Ministry of Security and Police would work together in assessing the security aspect of installing the gadgets and determining the locations.
However, some MPs led by Nandala Mafabi, who chaired the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee inquiry into the abuse of Chogm funds, have asked the Security ministry to first account for Shs80b spent on the procurement of CCTV cameras in Kampala.
“We gave security Shs80b for spy cameras, what happened to this money? Let them account for public funds before the Budget Committee approves the additional Shs60b for the same activity,” Mr Mafabi said.
Police spokesperson Emilian Kayima at the weekend explained that some CCTV cameras are working, especially in the Central Business District area.
He however, requested for more time to get details on how effective the Chogm cameras are, particularly in fighting crime in Kampala, the challenges and the costs involved. Previously, Police had requested for Shs203b. It is not clear whether Shs60b Cabinet approved will be enough to cover all the major towns across the country.
“We should have installed CCTV cameras on the day we got independence…they are very important in fighting crime…the procurement process is going to start as soon as we get the money for the CCTV cameras,” Mr Kayima said.
“There is no need for alarm because we are going to train people who will be managing the facility, ensure security of the cameras so that they are not vandalised or stolen. All these things have been planned and we signed a memorandum of understanding with Algeria. But all these are strategic things which I can’t go into now since we need to know the deliverables.”
Although some MPs have criticised the emergency budget as being “out of touch with the lives of ordinary people” who are angry after years of unfulfilled promises and budget cuts, the Parliament Budget Committee has cheered the inclusion of Shs60b for CCTV cameras and Shs80b for procurement of the hoes Mr Museveni promised during his presidential campaigns.
The hoes will be procured through the National Agricultural Advisory Services (Naads) and will be distributed to households.
The proposed procurements are part of a Shs910b supplementary expenditure Schedule No.2 that has been tabled for MPs’ approval.
In the supplementary request, State House also wants Shs57.9b under classified expenditure. Government also wants Shs20b to purchase shares in Atiak Sugar Factory owned by Amina Hersi Moghe, the proprietor of Oasis Mall.
Junior Finance minister David Bahati told the Budget Committee on Thursday that Shs419b was spent as supplementary expenditure by various entities without prior Parliament approval, which section 25(1) of the Public Finance Management Act permits as it is within the 3 per cent threshold.
The remaining Shs481b, which includes the CCTV cameras funds, is beyond the 3 per cent and will have to be approved by MPs before authorising expenditure. The MPs have asked Mr Bahati to disclose source of funds before they consider the request.
Mr Bahati then told legislators that the funds are to be obtained through borrowing from commercial banks, a matter that angered MPs.
When the committee chairperson, Mr Amos Lugoloobi, put the matter to vote, MPs agreed to await the Committee on National Economy’s position on the domestic borrowing loan request before approving the supplementary. The National Economy Committee is scrutinising all loan requests by government.
Opposition MPs have, however, criticised the latest cash request as “a political supplementary request” intended to help the ruling party raise cash to finance the planned referendum of a seven-year term and Local Council elections.
They insisted that the spending items such as salaries and rent, do not fit into “unforeseen emergencies”.
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 and rent arrears.
Security cameras: Shs60b.
State House expenditure: Shs57.9b
Purchase of shares in Atiak Sugar Factory: Shs20b.
Classified Military equipment: Shs8b
KCCA project: Shs141b
Handouts for elderly: Shs15.3b
Blood shortage: Shs8.6b
Rent for Justice ministry: Shs3.8b
RDCs in new districts: Shs1b
Lawyers’ fees in DRC plunder case: Shs5.2b