ON ASKING PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES SPECIFICS IN MONETARY TERMS HOW MUCH THEY PROJECT TO SPEND FOR VARIOUS PROGRAMMES, CHARLES MPAGI GETS IT WRONG
Charles Mpagi in programme from 7.00 – 8.00pm; Monday to Friday on KFM Radio, he is fond of asking Presidential Candidates specifics in money terms how much they hope to spend on programmes as reflected in their Manifestos. However, Charles gets wrong. The NRM Government has been in office for 25 years now, and a lot of information is not readily available in the public domain, it requires an elected Government to first get to office to establish the facts, which may be a few months. For instance, it is believed that some people are paid through channels that may have to be streamlined, and source of such money has to be established and reversed to the right channel. It is not clear whether all would be tax payers actually pay tax as required by law. These among others are a few of the areas where tax payers’ money is spent, and it requires an elected Government to get all this information/facts first before making actual allocations in the budget, this however does not water down what the priorities should be, but has the effect of affecting the actual amounts that may be available in the budget. Cases in point among others include the debt obligations the country has which monies have either to be repaid as per the schedule or negotiations made to reschedule; we have instances where some Chief Executives of organizations get up to shs 30 m a month, which salaries may need down review hence saving; cases like where Government has to pay for Uganda’s role in plundering DR Congo resources, which is yet to be settled, and the number of such cases has to be established, for instance it is not clear whether we still have outstanding obligations to Tanzania regarding the role in 1979 liberation war; there may be new donor commitments negotiated that may double or triple resources to the country against the background that many donors have cut aid to the country due to various penalties to check NRM excesses on corruption, governance issues to mention but a few.
A SPECIFIC CASE
The government wants Shs2.5 billion to facilitate lawyers and other technocrats ahead of a meeting with Congolese officials—whose country accuses Uganda of war crimes and plunder of its resources. The money, being sourced as an emergency under a supplementary budget request to Parliament by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will be for a meeting slated for later this month. DR Congo accuses Uganda of war crimes and plundering its resources when the latter, together with a bevy of countries, invaded it between 1998 and 2003.
In 1999, Congo took Uganda to the World Court—seeking reparations of between $6b and $10b—which the court said was a fair claim. The UN court sitting at The Hague, however, gave the countries an option of settling the matter between themselves. The upcoming meeting is part of this negotiation—that according to the foreign affairs permanent secretary, Amb. James Mugume—is a follow-up on the Ngurdoto Agreement signed between Presidents Museveni and Joseph Kabila in 2007.