MPs quiz, kick out finance bosses over Shs4 trillion

State Minister for Finance Henry Musasizi and Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury in the Ministry of Finance, Mr Ramathan Ggoobi, appear before the budget committee at Parliament, yesterday. PHOTO | DAVID LUBOWA 

What you need to know:

  • The Ministry of Finance officials were questioned by the Parliament Committee on Budget regarding the expenditure of Shs4.05 trillion without parliamentary approval, identified as irregularities in the 2023/2024 National Budget.

The Parliament Committee on Budget yesterday afternoon grilled and threw out top officials from the Ministry of Finance for irregularities cited in the 2023/2024 National Budget.

The ministry officials led by the State Minister for Finance in-charge of General Duties, Mr Henry Musasizi, and the Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury, Mr Ramathan Ggoobi, were faulted for spending Shs4.05 trillion without prior approval of Parliament.

The committee chaired by Mr Patrick Isiagi had convened to scrutinise the 2024/2025-budget estimates that were tabled last Thursday. But Mr Musasizi was quickly put to task yesterday only minutes after he made his opening statement.

Mr Musasizi and Mr Ggoobi were quizzed to clarify what informed the ministry’s decision to find and spend Shs4.05 trillion without following the laid down procedures.

The monies in question were contained in Mr Musasizi’s statement.

Mr Musasizi said: “Whereas the approved budget for FY 2023/2024 amounts to Shs52.737 trillion, a supplementary of Shs3.49 trillion was issued and a total statutory revision amounting to Shs4.05 trillion, resulting in a revised budget of Shs60.27 trillion.”

But Mr Isiagi quickly contested the statement and demanded answers on how the ministry opted to fetch and spend another Shs4.05 trillion without prior approval of Parliament.

He said the initially approved 2023/2024 budget amounted to Shs52.727 trillion, but the government later sought additional Shs3.49 trillion that was cleared by Parliament.

Mr Musasizi without availing details on the anomaly, admitted fault, saying: “This is what we have [also] noted. There is some anomaly there and what we are going to do is to bring it to Parliament for approval.”

Earlier, Mr Ggoobi declined to comment on the matter and asked the Acting Director Treasury Services and Asset Management, Ms Jennifer Muhuruzi, to explain. But MPs found her response inadequate.

Mr Isiagi then suggested that the matter be handled behind closed-door, something the Mbale City Industrial Division MP, Mr Karim Masaba, did not agree with.

“That is quite huge and we cannot just let it go and we conclude it in-house. I think we can handle it before we proceed with the minister,” Mr Masaba said.

Kibanda North MP Linos Ngompek, who insisted that the Ministry of Finance officials be pressed for more answers, seconded him.

Mr Masaba then proposed that Ministry of Finance officials be investigated and punished should they be found culpable.

“I request that we conclude this matter. You may request the minister to come up with an explanation. We want the officers who were directly responsible for this to be held directly responsible because they are taking away the powers of Parliament,” Mr Masaba said.

The MPs were also displeased to learn that minister Musasizi had last Thursday read a Shs58.3 trillion budget estimate for 2024/2025, yet the detailed 2024/2025 budget estimates indicated a total of Shs60.406 trillion.

“The draft estimates that were laid before Parliament, specifically on Page 3009 of this book has got Shs60 trillion. So, we want to understand what we are processing. We need the minister to clarify,” the Sheema Municipality MP, Mr Dicksons Kateshumbwa, said.

Mr Musasizi, on the sidelines of the committee session, said: “In the estimates book, we have a resource envelope of Shs60 trillion, but in the budget, which I laid last week, we have revised the resource envelope downwards to Shs58 trillion.”

Mr Musasizi also said: “The Shs4.05 trillion relates to the statutory revisions which are normally done by the Treasury.”

“There are those things which you must pay for, for instance payments, you have budgeted to pay [at an interest rate] at say 5 percent and now the market reveals 8 percent. Those things have strict timelines, so in order for us to pay at, for instance, 8 percent, we do that through a statutory revision,” he added.