What you need to know:
- While presenting the Opposition response to the annual budget estimates for the Financial Year 2022/23 on Tuesday before Parliament’s budget committee, the Finance shadow minister, Mr Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala County MP), noted with concern that the last five financial years’ rent costs have been escalating with the largest leap in FY 2021/22.
The Opposition in Parliament has asked the government to present within six months, the roadmap to cease renting private properties and developing of domiciles for all institutions, as a means of reducing unnecessary expenditures.
They have also suggested that before the budget for Financial Year 2022/23 is approved, government should brief the House on the progress made in development of a one-stop government office campus at Bwebajja along Entebbe Road.
While presenting the Opposition response to the annual budget estimates for the Financial Year 2022/23 on Tuesday before Parliament’s budget committee, the Finance shadow minister, Mr Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala County MP), noted with concern that the last five financial years’ rent costs have been escalating with the largest leap in FY 2021/22.
According to data from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Shs 678 billion has been spent on rent from FY 2017/2018 to present, out of which Shs 647b was paid to private entities and Shs30.9b to other government units.
“It has been noted that most of the premises belong to the same network of individuals or companies. For instance, Kingdom Kampala owned by Mr Sudhir Ruparelia accommodatespresidential advisors, Parliament, Ministry of East African Community Affairs and Uganda Warehouse Receipt System Authority,” Mr Kivumbi said.
“The rent costs are incurred amidst failed commitments by government to construct an office campus for all ministries on 48.5 acres of land in Bwebajja, off the Kampala-Entebbe highway,” he further explained.
‘Hyped Parish Development Model’
The Opposition also wants government to review the decentralisation policy and report to Parliament the findings within FY 2022/23.
In the FY 2022/23 budget, government has allocated Shs 1 trillion for the Parish Development Model to transform 3.5 million poor households in Uganda. However, members from the Opposition wing argue that this would be unattainable, considering that the cost implications of the lifespan of the model are unknown.
“If funds are evenly distributed, each of the targeted 3.5 million subsistence households would be entitled to only Shs285,000 annually. Suffice to note is the fact that according to the latest National Housing Survey, majority households consist of six or more members, meaning each member would get Shs47,000 annually. That can only purchase 23 coffee seedlings which are estimated at Shs 2,000 each,” Mr Kivumbi said.
However, some legislators were concerned that the Opposition MPs are attempting to sabotage poverty eradication programmes like the Parish Development Model.
“So where does the common man go to borrow money, we have had problems with Uganda Development Bank (UDB), same with the agricultural facility of Bank of Uganda. The only area we have is microfinance, so we should ensure that what we allocate goes to the common man,” Mr Dickson Kateshumbwa, the Sheema Municipality MP commented.
However, Mr Kivumbi was quick to respond that, “From where I come from [the Opposition], we are just doing a noble job and it is our duty to paint a picture as it is. For some people, Uganda is a project. For us, it is our motherland. We have nowhere to go, even if we went, we would still return to a place we call home. We are not decampaigning the Parish Development Model. Every single effort that goes to alleviating poverty, no matter how inadequate should be supported, but we also have to be realistic.”
The projected budget for the Financial Year 2022/23, which is yet to be approved by Parliament stands at Shs47 trillion.