Gulu councillors raise concern over budget irregularities

What you need to know:

  • While scrutinising the Shs48.8 billion budget during a city council meeting on Monday, the councillors said there were a number of conflicting figures in different sections of the budget

Councillors in Gulu have raised concern over irregularities in the 2022/2023 Financial Year budget of the city.
While scrutinising the Shs48.8 billion budget during a city council meeting on Monday, the councillors said there were a number of conflicting figures in different sections of the budget.

The budget was tabled by the city mayor and secretary of finance, planning and administration, Mr Alfred Okwanga.
According to the budget, the roads and engineering department was allocated Shs22.7 billion (47.9 percent), Education Shs13.5 billion (27.8 percent), while planning and administration were allocated Shs4.7 billion (9.8 percent) and health Shs2 billion (4.2 percent).

However, Ms Caroline Adong, a councillor, contested the budget upon detecting varying figures in the budget speech, the budget draft document, and the figures portrayed in the work plan document.
“It is confusing which document to quote and make submissions on. The figures are not the same in the three documents. Let us not take it as an error, we need the technocrats to come and explain this in the council meeting today since it is the last day,” Ms Adong said.

Issue
She noted that all the sector allocations in the draft were not matching the figures announced by the mayor while reading his budget speech.
She cited the allocation for roads and engineering which the budget speech projected at Shs22.7 billion whereas the work plan indicated Shs25 billion.
While the education sector in the budget speech showed Shs13.5 billion but in the budget work plan document, it indicated Shs13.8 billion.
Ms Adong insisted that at the executive committee level, they discussed a Shs48.1 billion budget document but Mr Okwonga presented a Shs48.8 billion one.

Another councillor, Mr Andrew Otto Ogwetta, accused members of the executive committee of deliberately inflating the budget figures with intent to embezzle money.
When asked by the council speaker to explain the irregularities presented, Mr Okwonga said: “Madam speaker, there is nothing I can own here. I do not want anybody to malice me, we discussed the document for one week and this is not what was presented. This document has been doctored. I cannot own it.”
The council executive and councillors also denied taking part in making the budget. 

Ms Joyce Alima, the speaker, adjourned the meeting by a day, saying: “There is no way the council is going to discuss a document without ownership. For any document to be tabled in this council, it must come from a recognised group or committee, if the executive committee cannot own a report we cannot discuss it and we are adjourning.”
 

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