The Ministry of Defence will use up to 53 per cent of its budget for the next financial year on classified expenditure, Daily Monitor has learnt.
Classified expenditure refers to spending under the military’s covert undertakings.
Details contained in the sector’s policy statement submitted to Parliament indicate that the army intends to spend up to Shs106.6 billion on arrears, of which 88.4 per cent is domestic arrears and the remaining constitutes utility arrears (water and electricity.)
Further scrutiny of the Defence Budget reveals that up to Shs1.55 trillion is meant for “Defence Equipment.”
In the current year running, the ministry has spent close to Shs4 trillion on classified expenditure, amid criticism as to why the military is investing heavily in equipment in the absence of war.
In his explanation, contained in the policy brief, Defence minister Adolf Mwesige says the ministry intends to invest in “acquisition of military equipment and research and development.”
“These efforts are aimed at enhancing delivery of effective firepower, safe and quick troop mobility as well as troop protection and sustainability,” reads the statement.
“UPDF will continue to develop and sustain its capacity and capability through enhancement of its requisite equipment in sync with the technological advancement and the current and future threats,” adds Mr Mwesige.
The ministry also intends to recruit 4,000 youth across for both combat and Operations Other Than War (OOTW) in an effort that Mr Mwesige says is intended “to ensure that the individual soldier can play his or her part as a professional individual within a team in a modernised force.”
Priority, according to Mr Mwesige, will be for infantry soldiers, mountain warfare and courses, specifically for the enhancement of career development.
“UPDF will continue to train in order to have an efficient Force that can tackle the threats of the defence of Uganda, and deployments to enhance regional and international peace, security and stability. The Reserve Forces as a key component supporting the main UPDF will be strengthened through regular training sessions,” further reads Mr Mwesige’s submission.
The ministry has indicated that the Shs3,27 trillion allocated is not enough given the activities they intend to do. The army says they are underfunded by Shs586.6b, while other items amounting to Shs1.5 trillion were not funded at all.
According to the Ministry of Defence, several security concerns including susceptibility to terror attacks persist.
“The threat of terrorism, mainly by al-Shabaab and Islamic State Central African Province (ISCAP) elements persists. The al-Shabaab activities in the neighbouring Somalia, Kenya, and reportedly in the DR Congo, continue to pose potential threat to Uganda, given our role in Amisom, and the shared porous borders,” says Mr Mwesige.
He adds: “The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) has continued to be a regional security threat and has further established contacts with another terrorist organisation Ahlu Sunna Wa Jama’ahin Mozambique.”
Meanwhile, taxpayers will have to part with Shs5.2 billion to finance President Museveni’s Cup.
The tournament slated for later this year will attract participation of 19 African countries.
The tournament is included in activities to be funded under the Ministry of Defence Budget for the next financial year starting June.
According to the ministry’s planning document for the next financial year, this will be part of the sixth edition of African Military Boxing Championship (CAMBOXE), and the tournament “is within the spirit of African Military Sports Movement, which promotes the ideals of peace, fraternity, sports excellence and fair play.”
Mr Adolf Mwesige, the Defence minister, says Museveni Cup is an international obligation for which the ministry requires an estimated Shs5.2 billion.
“In FY 2020/2021, the Defence ministry will host the 6th edition of the CAMBOXE - Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (YKM) Cup, in which 19 African countries will participate,” the statement reads in part.
The Defence ministry has also asked for Shs1.74 trillion as classified expenditure in the next financial year.
Meanwhile, the ministry has earmarked Shs12.9b for recruitment and training of new recruits ahead of the 2021 General Election. According to ministry’s budget document, the army will recruit 4,000 youth.