Electoral Commission to finally hold Local Council elections
Money for Local Council elections and Women Councilors to be remitted to the Electoral Commission.
The revelation was made earlier today during a committee meeting between Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee, the Minister of Finance Hon. Matia Kasaija and officials from the Electoral Commission.
The Parliamentary committee had summoned the Minister to explain why the Ministry had not found money, UGX 12 billion for the Electoral Commission (EC) to carry elections in new constituencies as promised in a previous meeting. Elections for district elected leaders ; District Woman MP and LC5 Chairperson, are supposed to be conducted within 60 days after operationalization.
The Electoral Commission had requested for funding for the elections during the 2017/2018 budget cycle. 12 months later, nothing had been released.
Minister of Finance had committed to provide funds for the election in the new districts when the Electoral commission wrote to the Ministry requesting for the funds.
With EC members present at the meeting, they adduced evidence showing that they had indeed written to the Ministry requesting for said funds.
The Minister of Finance then explained to the committee that money would be provided in the form of a supplementary approved by Parliament.
However, MP Ssemujju still expressed dissatisfaction in the Minister’s promise for money for the new constituencies. He said the same promise had been made in regard to elections for LCI, LCII elections and Women Councilors and to date, nothing had been remitted to the EC. He added that the Ministry was in the habit of blaming other government agencies yet the fault was theirs.
The Minister then admitted that while money was released, it had been used to buy food during the drought. ‘We used the money for food during the drought because no one can plan for a drought and food is a national priority’.
The minister went on to assert that the money had been replenished, a claim confirmed by the EC. The EC then committed to avail a road map and programme by next week.
MP Niwagaba asked if the Minister could authorize a virement for the constituencies like Kaabong whose period for by-elections for Women Member of Parliament is due to expire on 28 August and possibly replenish once the supplementary was passed. The Minister argued that a virement will also take time and advised the EC to go ahead to organize elections. He said the ministry needed a one week turn around to release money for the election.
The Public Finance Management Act allows the minister to vire the budget of a vote up to 3% without seeking Parliament approval.