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Government wants Shs 377b more for defence, lands

PARLIAMENT: The government wants an additional Shs 377 billion to cater for classified security expenditure under the Ministry of Defence and clear outstanding debts owed to National Housing and Construction Company (NHCC) by the Ministry of Lands.

Out of the Shs 377 billion supplementary request, the Ministry of Defence will take the lion’s share of the supplementary budget with Shs 369 billion amid concerns that funding for the security sector is shooting out of the roof.

The Security sector had been allocated Shs Shs1.4 trillion in the 2017/18 budget but that allocation has been boosted by several supplementary budgets as Shs 247 billion will cater for classified expenditure, a spending vote that is not examined by Parliament and is shrouded in secrecy.

Special meals will take Shs 60 billion, fuel for Land Forces [Shs22 billion], clothing [Shs 24 billion], medical products from private hospital bills [Shs2 billion] and Shs 13 billion for fuel for Air Force.

Shs 7.3 billion will go to the Ministry of Lands to cater for outstanding debts owed to Shelter Afrique by NHCC.

MPs raised queries over how the government will utilise the Shs 377 billion with the financial year now at its tail end.

Budadiri West MP Nandala Mafabi said the Shs 377 billion supplementary will “distort” the 2017/18 budget that has a month to go and questioned how the Ministries will absorb the money with little time left before the current financial year ends.

“We passed a supplementary of over Shs 170 billion. Today we are working on the budget process for the next financial year and now if we have only one month to go and you start bringing supplementary budgets, that means we are distorting the budget of 2017/18 and yet Parliament passed that budget knowing what we were doing,” Mr Mafabi said.

Jinja East MP Paul Mwiru said Parliament should set a deadline for the government to file supplementary requests as the Ministry of Finance continues to bombard MPs with supplementary requests.

“We should have a cut-off for presenting supplementary schedules. For purposes of orderliness, we should keep off these supplementary schedules, “Mr Mwiru said.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga ruled that the Finance Committee will examine the request and guide on the next course of action.

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