MPs throw out ‘smuggled’ extra Shs3.4 trillion budget

Minister of State for Finance (General Duties) Henry Musasizi (left) interacts with Budget Committee chairperson Patrick Isiagi Opolot (Kachumbala County) while appearing before the committee on December 5, 2023. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • The MPs accused Mr Musasizi and the Director of budget at the Finance Ministry, Mr Ismael Magona, of presenting unclear figures.

Parliament Committee on Budget yesterday threw out an extra Shs3.393 trillion that the government had allegedly smuggled to be jointly processed for approval with the Shs3.5 trillion supplementary budget.

The committee chaired by the Kachumbula County legislator, Mr Patrick Isiagi, had convened to scrutinise the Shs3.5 trillion supplementary budget that was on Thursday last week tabled before Parliament in a sitting chaired by Speaker Anita Among.

Lawmakers were displeased that whereas the State Minister for Finance in Charge of General Duties, Mr Henry Musasizi, had tabled a Shs3.5 trillion request, his submissions before the Budget Committee to, which Ms Among had referred the matter, contained an extra Shs3.393 trillion.
The MPs accused Mr Musasizi and the Director of budget at the Finance Ministry, Mr Ismael Magona, of presenting unclear figures.

The ‘‘mischief’’ was arrested by Mr Maxwell Ebong Patrick Akora (Maruzi County).
In his statement, Mr Musasizi said: “Members, in line with the above section of the law, I laid before Parliament, supplementary expenditure under schedule Number 1 Financial Year 2023/2024 amounting to Shs3.500 trillion.”

“In addition, my ministry has issued statutory revisions amounting to Shs3.393 trillion,” he added.
But Mr Akora interjected saying: “To me, the minister is not being clear because according to Mr Magona’s explanation, the total supplementary request that they are presenting to this committee is Shs3.5 trillion plus Shs3.393 trillion which amounts to about Shs7.2 trillion,” Mr Akora said.

“So why don’t you be clear so that we understand this once and for all?” Mr Akora wondered.
His sentiments were shared by Buliisa Woman MP Norah Bigirwa-Nyendwoha who was openly bitter that the government had attempted to hoodwink the committee into processing documents different from what was tabled before Parliament.

“It does not make any sense for us as Members of Parliament, chairpersons of different committees who are aware that we came here for Shs3.5 trillion supplementary budget and then you come with different figures,” Ms Bigirwa-Nyendwoha said.

She, therefore, asked the Ministry of Finance officials to execute their mandate in a manner that would reflect honesty in governance.
Mawogola South MP Gorreth Namugga suggested that discussions into the said foreign figure be halted until the Finance ministry officials revisit their figures for scrutiny.

Mr Maxwell Ebong Patrick Akora, the Maruzi County MP.

“We cannot process a document that is not clear to us. So, I request that the minister and his team move out for 30 minutes and clarify on this so that we process something that we understand,’’ Ms Namugga said.
This suggestion was supported by Mr Isiagi who demanded that a clearer statement be availed.

“This one, we must dismiss. This is a smuggled statement, this one [about Statutory] revision [amounting to Shs3.393 trillion]. They want us to make a mistake and approve something we don’t know. It is not even in the schedule [One which has Shs3.5 trillion],” Mr Isiagi said, adding “So that one straight away we disregard.”
“So clean up your document and come back with a figure that is to be funded by the borrowing. So can we dismiss the director of budget [at the Ministry of Finance, Mr Magona] and give him 30 minutes to come back with the information. He gives us something accurate that we can refer to,” Mr Isiagi said.

Considering that the new figure, Shs3.393 trillion, was not captured in the document containing the Shs3.5 trillion tabled last Thursday and referred to the Budget committee for processing, it was solved that no deliberations would be done on it.

Other submissions
    The committee also received submissions from various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) expected to benefit from the supplementary 

budgetary request. Mr Isiagi indicated that his committee would expedite the request and then report back to the House later this week for endorsement by Parliament.