STATEHOUSE SPENDING JUMPS TO SHS 160BN!
By Yasiin Mugerwa
Posted Wednesday, February 22 2012 at 00:00
State House was yesterday unapologetic in the face of Parliament’s dismay at the Presidency’s repeated failure to spend within budget as its expenditure topped Shs160 billion as the country approaches the midway point of the Financial Year.
Latest figures from Ministry of Finance indicate that the State House budget has jumped from Shs66.6 billion approved in September last year to Shs158.5 billion.
Responding to members’ queries over State House’s uncontrolled spending, Secretary to the Treasury Chris Kassami admitted before the Finance Committee yesterday that supplementary requests were an “inconvenience” and a “disruption” of the Budget implementation process.
Mr Kassami told the committee that the government was in the process of amending the Budget Act, 2001 to provide for a 3 per cent allocation for a Contingency Fund to take care of unexpected supplementary requests.
While Parliament is yet to approve a recent Shs91.9 billion State House supplementary request in respect of monies already spent outside budget, Ministry of Finance has released Shs117.2 billion— representing 175 per cent of the total approved budget for State House for the current Financial Year.
Nodding patients untouched
With the Ministry of Health struggling to find Shs7 billion to help thousands of children stricken by the nodding disease which has claimed hundreds of lives in northern Uganda, State House last week tabled a request of Shs91.9 billion in more funding for the Presidency.
But presidential spokesman Tamale Mirundi, was scathing in his response to MPs who have accused the President of extravagance and insensitivity to the sick children in northern Uganda. He likened them to “peasants” whose arguments do not hold worth in a modern society.
Mr Mirundi said those complaining that the President is extravagant are like loud-mouthed parents, tired of paying school fees for their children.
“Nodding disease is not an issue for State House. That falls under Ministry of Health and disaster preparedness. Those MPs who are complaining about President’s expenditure should stop advancing peasantry arguments. State House has not grabbed any money for health and they should stop inciting the public,” he said yesterday.
“They should drop that peasantry mentality and think like legislators. They need to be helped to think in a modern way.”
Mr Mirundi said President Museveni’s expenses were a reflection of a working leader, offering accountability to his people.
“Those MPs should stop complaining about the President’s budget. They have a working President who is not a Kabaka. The President must go to every part of the country and travels abroad. He has not used the money to take his children to school. He is not using the money for the wedding of his children. If they don’t want a working President, let then amend the Constitution and have a monarchy.”
Shadow Finance Minister Geoffrey Ekanya once again accused the Presidency of “greed” and perpetuating financial indiscipline at a time when the economy is doing badly wit inflation in double digits.
“It appears impunity is steadily growing and those in power no longer care about those they lead. There is no way President Museveni would swim in billions when the rest of the county is yawning,” Mr Ekanya said. “This is too much, how can State House spend money on special meals and drinks, entertainment, donation, newspapers etc when other Ugandans are sinking in poverty?”
State House’s actions, along with the allegations of financial indiscipline, fly in the face of Section 12(1) of the Budget Act 2001 which allows Ministry of Finance to spend only 3 per cent of total the budget as supplementary expenditure for which it can seek retrospective authority from Parliament.