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Matia Kasaija: The longest serving Finance minister

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Finance Minister Matia Kasaija arrives at Kololo ceremonial grounds for budget reading on June 15, 2023. PHOTO/ DAVID LUBOWA

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija will today read his eighth budget, cementing him as the only minister to hold the docket for this long, thus far. 

He has presented all budget speeches during his tenure, save for the Financial Year 2021/22 speech read by Mr Amos Lugoloobi, who until his current appointment as the State minister for Planning, had been the chairman of the Budget Committee of Parliament.

Mr Kasaija, a seasoned politician, was appointed as minister of Finance on March 01, 2015, replacing Ms Maria Kiwanuka, a businesswoman, who had spent a couple of years at the docket.
For the last nine years, Mr Kasaija has been the Minister of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development, making him the longest-serving minister in that position since independence --gained from the British on October 9, 1962.

Next on the ladder is Mr Gerald Majera Ssendaula, who served as  Finance minister for seven years between 1998 and 2005 when he retired. He was one of the strongest advocates of the private sector-led economy, which he retired to.  

Following closely behind in terms of years served is Crispus Walter Kiyonga. He did six years from 1986 – 1992. As the minister of Finance, he is credited with establishing the national tax collection agency - the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). He is one of the earliest professionals the National Resistance Movement (NRM)-led government made use of when they took over power in 1986.

Then Jehoash Mayanja Nkangi (RIP), just like Dr Kiyonga, served as minister of Finance for six years, from March 1992 to May 1998.  Under the NRM regime Nkangi, a lawyer, saw his run in Mr Museveni’s Cabinet in several positions come to an end in 2001.

Then came Prof Ezra Suruma, the brain behind the Parish Development Model. He served for four years, from  2005 to 2009.
Ms Maria Kiwanuka, an economist and businesswoman took over the reins from Prof Suruma.  She served from 27 May 2011 to March 01, 2015. Many thought her contract as Finance minister would be extended after the four-year stint, but it was not.  
Ms Syda Namagembe Bbumba served from 2009 to 2011. 
Prof Ponsiano Mulema served as the first minister of Finance after President Museveni’s government  took over power in January 1986. He held the docket until September 1986.

Finance ministers before NRM govt
After serving for less than a year in 1961, Mayanja Kyompitira Sebalu, a lawyer and economist, took over from  Christopher Melmoth, a British colonial administrator, as minister of Finance, making him the first black Ugandan Finance minister. Then AK Sempa took over in 1962. During the reign of then President Milton Obote, from 1966 to 1971, the position of the minister of Finance was vacant with the late president playing the role.

The position was restored in 1971 when the Late President Idi Amin took control of the government, appointing Emmanuel Wakhweya as a minister of Finance, a position he held until 1977 when Mr Moses Ali, currently retired General and the second deputy prime minister, was appointed minister of Finance.  Mr Ali served in that position until Amin’s government was overthrown.

In 1980, under the Military Commission, veteran Lawrence Sebalu was reinstated in that position. In the same year, the late Milton Obote took over power for the second time as President. In his reign, between 1980 to 1985, he also served as the Minister of Finance.

Finance ministers since independence
• Christopher  Melmoth: 1956 - 1961
•Lawrence Sebalu: July 1961 - March 1962
• Christopher Melmoth: March 1962 - April 1962
• Amos Sempa: April 1962 - 1964
• Lawrence Kalule Settala: 1964 - January 1971
•Emmanuel Blayo Wakhweya: January 1971 - 1975
•Moses Ali: 1977 - 1978
• Jumba Masagazi: 1978 - April 1979
•Sam Sebagereka: April 1979 – June 1979
•Jack Sentongo: June 1979 – May 1980
• Lawrence Sebalu: May 1980
• Apollo Milton Obote: December 1980 – July 1985
•Abraham Waligo:  July 1985 – January 1986
• Ponsiano Mulema: January 1986 - September 1986
• Crispus Kiyonga: September 1986 - February 1992
• Jehoash Mayanja Nkangi: February 1992 - May 1998
•Gerald Ssendaula: 1998 - 2005
• Ezra Suruma, 2005: February 2009
• Syda Bbumba: 2009 - 2011
• Maria Kiwanuka:  2011 - 2015
• Matia Kasaija: 2015 – to date
             Source Ministry of Finance