Members of Parliament on the defense and internal affairs committee have raised concerns over an additional sh1.9 trillion classified expenditure added on the budget for the defence ministry. The additional allocation has raised the proposed 2019/2020 budget for the ministry from sh1.5 trillion which had been allocated in the budget framework paper to sh3.4 trillion.
The Butambala County MP, Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi, who is also the opposition shadow minister for internal affairs, challenged the decision, calling it an illegality. “According to the Public Finance Management Act, the budget ministerial policy statement has to conform to the budget framework paper.
The budget for defence approved by Parliament in the budget framework paper is completely different from this. An extra allocation of sh1.9 trillion is too much. This is an illegality. It is unacceptable,” Kivumbi said. He argued that whenever the general elections are approaching, the Government comes up with an exorbitant classified expenditure.
“We highly believe that these huge classified budgets are used as conduits for the National Resistance Movement government to raise money for funding its 2021 political interests. This is misuse of public resources,” Kivumbi added.
The vocal legislator suggested that before the committee writes its report, it would have to seek the permission of the Speaker of Parliament on the additional sh1.9 trillion for defence which he believes is a gross violation of the budgeting laws.
Responding to Kivumbi’s concerns, defence minister Adolf Mwesige said: “After the budget framework paper, Cabinet saw it necessary to discuss and approve the sh1.9 trillion classified expenditure. The budgeting process is still on. The final budget has not yet been read by the President. Even the committee report on the matter will have to be approved by the whole Parliament. So, there is no illegality.”
The veteran affairs state minister, Bright Rwamirama, dismissed allegations that the defence ministry was being used as a conduit for raising funds for political campaigns. “We are in 2019 and someone is talking about money for elections in 2021.
This classified expenditure is necessary for security reasons. We make plans depending on the security threats we have identified,” Rwamirama argued. The undersecretary for the defence ministry also explained that whereas the sh1.9 trillion classified budget had not been part of the budget framework paper, when need arose, the ministry submitted a request and it was granted by the finance ministry.
Mwesige raised concern that the finance ministry had not allocated them the money they need to cater for salary enhancement for soldiers, the salaries of Local Defence Units (LDUs) and the extra 3,000 soldiers the ministry plans to recruit in the next financial year.
Mwesige revealed that for the LDUs and extra soldiers, they need sh80.4b, which has not been provided for in the draft budget and for the salary enhancement for soldiers they need sh196b.