Government requests additional Shs1 trillion to fight Covid-19

Thursday June 18 2020

Measures. Health workers isolate a Covid-19

Measures. Health workers isolate a Covid-19 suspected case at Masaka regional hospital recently. PHOTO BY ISSA ALIGA  

By MISAIRI T. KAHUNGU

The government has submitted to Parliament a supplementary request to the 2019/20 Financial Year Budget of Shs1.09 trillion that is going to be used to intensify the fight against coronavirus that had by June 18 infected 741 Ugandans.
The new request for additional funds comes at the tail end of the Financial Year. The supplementary schedule was tabled on Tuesday by Planning minister David Bahati.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga sent the government request to the Committee on Budget for scrutiny despite several questions raised by the MPs, wondering whether the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) will be able to spend the money before June 30.

Accounting Officers are required to return unspent funds to the Consolidated Fund by the end of the financial year if the projects budgeted for have not entered implementation level to be rolled out into the new financial year. However, for committed funds, the Accounting Officer can write to Secretary to Treasury, requesting to retain the money in question.
Mr Amos Lugoloobi, the chairperson of the Budget Committee, questioned the timing of the request.
“The request is for over Shs1 trillion and assuming it is approved, I don’t think it is going to be feasible to be utilised within the remaining [13] days on the financial year. I suggest that this be presented as a supplementary to the 2020/2021 Budget recently passed,” Mr Lugoloobi said.

Dokolo District Woman MP, Ms Cecilia Ogwal suggested that the additional funds be catered for in the revised budget that the Finance Ministry intends to bring to the House as promised by Minister Matia Kasaija during the budget speech on June 11.
This is the third Supplementary Budget to be brought to Parliament in the 2019/2020 Financial Year Budget of Shs42 trillion. The supplementary schedule number 1 and 2 that was approved on April 8 was amounting to Shs923b. This included Shs284b for the fight against Covid-19 and Shs400b for Defence Classified Equipment, among other expenditures.
The Finance ministry explained that the funds will be obtained from the ongoing borrowing from the World Bank’s International Development Association, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

How the funds will be spent
According to the documents signed by the Finance minister and seen by Daily Monitor, the funds if approved by Parliament will be spent by the Ministries of Health, Finance, Trade, and, Science and Technology.
Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and the National Information Technology Agency Uganda (NITA-U) will also benefit from the supplementary budget.

Projected funds
Health, Shs89b. Having already received Shs104b out of the Shs284b the supplementary budget to the fight against Covid-19, the Ministry of Health is considered for Shs89b.
Finance, Shs505.18b. The ministry is seeking Shs455.18b for transfer to the Uganda Development Bank to support the manufacturing sector.
Trade, Shs100b.
Domestic arrears Shs223b.
Science and Technology, Shs17.18b

Cases rise to 741 following nine new infections
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health on Thursday reported nine new infections as the country’s confirmed cases rose to 741.
Five of the cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases from Kyotera and Amuru districts, while four of the cases are truck drivers who were detected from the Malaba and Elegu points of entry. Additionally, 31 foreign truck drivers who tested positive were sent back to their countries of origin.

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Dr Henry Mwebesa, the Director-General of Health Services says that all new cases have been traced and they are in hospitals receiving treatment.

Uganda has so far discharged 442 of the COVID-19 patients, after testing negative for the virus in two confirmatory tests conducted after treatment. 200 of them were treated using hydroxychloroquine at Entebbe General Hospital.

Dr Misaki Wayengera, the head of the COVID-19 Scientific Committee says that the country continues using hydroxychloroquine, as a core component of the COVID-19 treatment, and is not likely change to dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, which was found to be lifesaving for patients who are critically ill with COVID-19.

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