President Museveni ought to know one thing. Democracy is a MUST in Uganda. Short of that, even with super jet fighters it just wasting time. What matters is what the people of Ugand want and believe they have a right to get it. If he decides not to deliver, that is his decision.
William Kituuka Kiwanuka
NRM MPs okay Shs1.7 trillion fighter jet deal
NRM MPs OKAY SHS 1.7TRILLION FIGHTER JET DEAL
Posted Thursday, April 7 2011 at 00:00
The NRM Caucus on Tuesday night endorsed a deal in which the government seeks $740 million (about Shs1.7 trillion) from the national reserves to purchase fighter jets and other military hardware.
Sources within the party told Daily Monitor that the decision was reached during a one-hour impromptu meeting at State House Entebbe called by President Museveni to persuade the MPs to grant a retrospective parliamentary approval for the government to spend the money.
The Shs1.7 trillion taxpayers’ money was reportedly withdrawn from the Bank of Uganda during the campaigns and without Parliamentary approval. Sunday Monitor broke the story two weeks ago after Mr Museveni met the NRM MPs over the same matter. However, the lawmakers had demanded that a Cabinet sub-committee first looks at the matter before they take any decision.
The NRM caucus’ endorsement of the transaction means Parliament will approve the Shs1.7 trillion retrospective supplementary budget needed for the Russian made Sukhoi Su-30MKI jets.
The meeting was a follow-up of an earlier NRM Caucus meeting called by Mr Museveni recently where a committee comprising senior Cabinet lawyers and economists was tasked to come up with a report on whether the withdraw of the funds was lawful and why the transaction was conducted without parliamentary approval.
The committee would also answer questions on whether Parliament has ever passed such a huge transaction before. “Minister Adolf Mwesigye (Local Government) presented the committee report on behalf of the Secretary General (Amama Mbabazi) and he assured us that the transaction was lawful because at the moment the country is faced with regional threats where the country has to prepare for any emergencies that can arise in advance so that the country’s security is not compromised,” the source said.
Mr Mwesigye reportedly explained that the money was spent without parliamentary approval because it falls under classified expenditure.
He said they would not brief the MPs during election time when the purchase was completed as the public would misinterpret the government’s intentions. “The supplementary could not come early due to elections and the opposition would mistake the transaction to mean something else and to de-campaign the government but the equipment which was purchased is new and it is going to take us for 20 years,” Mr Mwesigye reportedly said.
The NRM party Treasurer, Mr David Bahati (Ndorwa West), confirmed the meeting.
“We were briefed by the chairperson of the party about the strategic issues regarding the security, details of which will be made available by the responsible ministries as we move on.
The caucus is in full support of the Commander-in-Chief’s way of handling issues regarding security,” Mr Bahati said yesterday. The government has reportedly paid out $446 million from the reserves with an outstanding debt of $294 million.
The state Minister for Security, Gen. Jeje Odong, is expected to come to Parliament with a supplementary request of about $240 million and the rest of the money would be budgeted for in the next financial year.
The President reportedly told the MPs that the country had previously purchased old equipment that had developed mechanical problems. “The helicopters we buy in the country are old but I went to Russia myself and inspected the new jets. The jets are the first ones to be purchased in 20 years and shall push the country for another 20 years without developing mechanic problems,” he reportedly said.