In Uganda, you must be ready for the disappointments. Just the morning following the launch of Bujagali alleged 50 MW, one wakes up to see power off by 8.00am in close vicinity of Kampala is simply sad. It becomes painful simply because the NRM Government in most of its plans, looks like people are after their own comfort and accumulation. Anyway, prayer will go along way in helping Ugandans out.
William Kituuka Kiwanuka
Ministries’ budgets cut to pay for power
Mr Gilberto Riccobono of Alstom (2nd L) shows Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi (C) and other officials the functional first 50MW unit of Bujagali hydropower project in Jinja yesterday. Government cut ministries’ budgets to pay private power suppliers, it has emerged. PHOTO BY NELSON WESONGA
By YASIIN MUGERWA & ALEX NSUBUGA (email the author) Your Email
Posted Friday, February 3 2012 at 00:00
With private power suppliers threatening to plunge the country in darkness, government swings axe to find Shs377b.
The government was recently forced to slash ministry and other departmental budgets as it scrambled to avert a crisis when private power generators threatened to plunge the country into darkness over hundreds of billions of shillings in unpaid arrears.
This newspaper understands that the decision to starve non-critical sectors of cash was taken by Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka with the backing of Cabinet— a development which highlights the cash squeeze currently facing the government as it seeks to implement activities set out in the 2011/12 budget announced in June last year.
A detailed break-down of how badly specific ministries were affected remain scanty, but Finance Ministry Spokesperson Jim Mugunga yesterday confirmed the cuts and asked the affected government agencies to bear with the situation.
“We had no choice but to make hard decisions in order to raise the money needed to subsidise thermal power generation,” Mr Mugunga said.
“The Shs92 billion allocated in the budget was not enough and we had to effect cuts to raise an additional Shs377 billion. In fact, by July we had already spent all the money budgeted for yet we had a crisis on our hands.”
Mr Mugunga, however, indicated that the Finance ministry did not touch core government activities in implementing the stop-gap measure. “We cut recurrent expenditures, targeting areas such as travel and procurement of vehicles, among others. This expenditure was made to sustain power supply on the national grid,” he said.
After Ms Kiwanuka realised Shs377b from this re-allocation, sources revealed that she later authorised the payment to power generators. The most recent installment of Shs120 billion was made last month.