Kampala. The government is reportedly broke because Ministry of Finance officials used money in the Contingency Fund to motivate MPs.
While asking NRM MPs to support the proposed amendments to the Public Finance law, the minister for planning, David Bahati, warned of a crisis in government, if Parliament rejects a new Bill that seeks to amend the current law to allow government, among other things, to borrow from Bank of Uganda.
Daily Monitor broke the story when the Parliamentary Commission, secretly approved a 40 per cent pay rise for MPs and House staff, in a move the Clerk to Parliament, Ms Jane Kibirege said was intended to motivate members ahead of next year’s elections.
After the pay rise, each of the 386 MPs in the 9th Parliament received an additional Shs100m in backdated fuel arrears. This came at a time when the principal beneficiaries to the Contingency Fund, the thousands of pensioners across the country were complaining about unpaid arrears. To date, most of the petitioners have either been partially paid or not paid at all.
When contacted yesterday, Mr Chris Obore, the Communications Director at Parliament, said all MPs allowances are approved by the Parliamentary Commission and appropriated through the national budget. He said he cannot speak for any payment outside the budget released by Ministry of Finance to the Parliamentary Commission.
The NRM MPs who attended the State House meeting told Daily Monitor that Mr Bahati informed the Caucus attended by President Museveni at State House last Friday that the money for pensioners and other unforeseen emergencies was spent on MPs. However, Mr Bahati’s explanation according to sources did not go well with some senior legislators led by Mr Emmanuel Dombo (Bunyole East), who insisted that the Shs286.7b in the Contingency Fund went to State House and defence operations.
Asked why government is broke, the Ministry of Finance Spokesperson, Jim Mugunga, said: “Government is not broke. Some ministries and government departments received more money in the budget.”
The Public Finance Management Act 2015, passed by Parliament this year, consolidates and amends provisions in the Budget Act 2001 and the Public Finance and Accountability Act 2003, and introduces sections for the management of petroleum revenue. However, in the disputed amendments to the Public Finance law, Ministry of Finance officials want the law amended to provide for reallocation by a vote of not more than 10 per cent of the budget of that vote without prior parliamentary approval. They also want further financing of supplementary estimates, authorise government to reallocate funds from one vote to another, and provide for guarantees and advances by the Bank of Uganda, again, without prior parliamentary approval.
Last month, Parliament rejected the amendments after MPs argued that the proposed amendments eat into the core mandate of Parliament. Parliament is expected to convene tomorrow to consider the government request again.