Does the Ugx 847.204bn sup­ple­men­tary bud­get re­quest by gov­ern­ment por­tray its lazi­ness and poor plan­ning?

By: MUSA MU­GOYA

On 3rd march 2015, Hon. Ma­tia Ka­saija be­fore he could even swear in as the new for Min­is­ter for fi­nance, plan­ning and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, pre­sented a sup­ple­men­tary bud­get (Sched­ule No.1) to par­lia­ment amount­ing to Ushs 847.204bn. Of this amount Ushs 268.372bn (1.7%) is for both re­cur­rent and de­vel­op­ment ex­pen­di­ture which needs ap­pro­pri­a­tion by par­lia­ments while Ushs 578.832bn (3.65%) statu­tory ex­pen­di­ture needs only re­vi­sion- mak­ing a to­tal per­cent­age of 5.35% of the to­tal ap­proved bud­get of the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year.
Sec­tion 12 of the Bud­get Act of 2001 stip­u­lates that the sup­ple­men­tary ex­pen­di­ture, that re­quires ad­di­tional re­sources over and above what is ap­pro­pri­ated by Par­lia­ment, shall not ex­ceed 3% of the to­tal bud­get for that fi­nan­cial year with­out prior ap­proval by par­lia­ment. How­ever gov­ern­ment has al­ways used statu­tory ex­pen­di­ture as an ex­cuse to go be­yond the 3%, be­cause for it, it is charged di­rectly on the con­sol­i­dated fund.

The sup­ple­men­tary bud­get in­cludes among oth­ers; Of­fice of the Pres­i­dent re­quest­ing for ad­di­tional in­cre­ment of Ugx 16.107bn, of which Ugx 6.35bn is for clear­ing ac­cu­mu­lated ver­i­fied ar­rears, 2.5bn to fa­cil­i­tate RDCs to mon­i­tor gov­ern­ment pro­jects; Ugx 171m for the treat­ment of se­nior pres­i­den­tial ad­vi­sor on me­dia and pub­lic re­la­tions among oth­ers; min­istry of de­fense sought for an ad­di­tional of Ugx 62bn to cater for short falls in the op­er­a­tions; min­istry of jus­tice and con­sti­tu­tional af­fairs re­quested for Ugx 22.85bn of which, Ugx 10bn is for pay­ment of court cases; Mak­erere uni­ver­sity re­quested for Ugx 2.65bn to ac­com­mo­date fore­gone fees re­sult­ing from out­stand­ing oblig­a­tions from H. E the Pres­i­den­t’s di­rec­tive on not to in­crease tu­ition fees and Ugx 250m for treat­ment of Dr. Pe­ter On­gom.

Uganda Reg­is­tra­tion Ser­vices Bu­reau had a re­quest of Shs 6.073bn for pay­ment of rent ar­rears and op­er­a­tional costs; Uganda mis­sions abroad also re­quested for 6.647bn to meet short­falls in salaries and op­er­a­tional costs of the mis­sions; trea­sury op­er­a­tions needed 403.148bn for statu­tory ex­ter­nal oblig­a­tions which arose as a re­sult of do­mes­tic fund­ing short­fall among other re­quests.

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The former Minister of Finance at the reading of the 2011/2012 Budget. Photo Credit: Edward Echwalu

It would have been ap­pro­pri­ate if sup­ple­men­tary bud­gets are re­quested for in the event of jus­ti­fi­able emer­gen­cies like dis­ease out­breaks or haz­ardous weather con­di­tions, among oth­ers be­cause or­di­nar­ily, sup­ple­men­taries are sup­posed to be un­fore­seen ex­pen­di­tures meant to cater for emer­gen­cies. How­ever in most cases as sam­pled above, sup­ple­men­tary re­quests come as sur­prises be­cause what hap­pens to be emer­gen­cies and un­fore­seen ex­pen­di­tures are; pay­ments for spe­cial meals and drinks, wel­fare and en­ter­tain­ment, do­na­tions, news­pa­pers, pho­to­copy­ing and print­ing, al­lowances, Pres­i­den­t’s trav­els in-land and abroad, cater­ing for pres­i­den­tial di­rec­tives among oth­ers which are re­cur­rent ex­pen­di­tures.

While ap­pear­ing be­fore the Bud­get com­mit­tee last week, Hon. As­ton Ka­jara, Min­is­ter of state (Pri­va­ti­za­tion) Min­istry of Fi­nance termed re­cur­rent and de­vel­op­ment ex­pen­di­tures as emer­gency pres­sures that he re­ceived from var­i­ous gov­ern­ment agen­cies that he had to au­tho­rize ad­di­tional fund­ing.

This re­quest has re­ceived crit­i­cism from var­i­ous law­mak­ers who have termed it as a po­lit­i­cal sup­ple­men­tary bud­get in­tended to help the rul­ing party to raise funds dur­ing the gen­eral cam­paigns. They have re­quested gov­ern­ment to re­spect and ob­serve the laws that gov­erns sup­ple­men­taries. As well as call­ing upon them to ed­u­cate them­selves to the Speaker of Par­lia­men­t’s rul­ing on how Par­lia­ment shall be han­dling sup­ple­men­taries which was is­sued on July 10 2014. It in­cluded the need for the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance to sat­isfy the house that gov­ern­ment has en­deav­oured to get re­sources from the Con­tin­gency Fund pro­vided for un­der Ar­ti­cle 154 of the Con­sti­tu­tion and Sec­tion 10 of the Pub­lic Fi­nance and Ac­count­abil­ity Act to meet ex­pen­di­tures that are fore­seen be­fore pre­sent­ing sup­ple­men­tary re­quests in Par­lia­ment.

The amount ap­pro­pri­ated for any pur­pose un­der the Ap­pro­pri­a­tion Act is in­suf­fi­cient; a need has arisen for ex­pen­di­tures for a pur­pose for which no amount has been ap­pro­pri­ated by the Ap­pro­pri­a­tion Act; the monies have been ex­pended for a pur­pose for which no amount has been ap­pro­pri­ated by the Ap­pro­pri­a­tion Act; to­tal sup­ple­men­tary ex­pen­di­ture that re­quires ad­di­tional re­sources over and above what was ap­pro­pri­ated by Par­lia­ment does not ex­ceed 3% of the to­tal ap­proved bud­get of that fi­nan­cial year; the sup­ple­men­tary re­quest ad­dresses the ef­fect it has on the fi­nan­cial re­quire­ments of Gov­ern­ment for that par­tic­u­lar fi­nan­cial year, and that the fur­ther dis­burse­ments are re­quired in re­spect of ser­vices which- could not have been fore­seen, may not be post­poned with­out detri­ment to the pub­lic in­ter­est, can­not be ap­pro­pri­ately charged to an ex­ist­ing item of the es­ti­mates; or would cause an ex­cess on the es­ti­mates; the sought ex­pen­di­ture can­not be met by vire­ments within the votes from items with sav­ings.

 

Al­though that is so the case it seems the Ex­ec­u­tive have taken par­lia­ment for granted and it has be­come a rit­ual for the Ex­ec­u­tive to seek for sup­ple­men­tary bud­gets every year most es­pe­cially when the coun­try is ap­proach­ing to gen­eral cam­paigns for ex­am­ple in 2010, the then Min­is­ter for Fi­nance, Hon. Syda Bumba re­quested for an ad­di­tional of Ushs 600bn. Un­less par­lia­ment moves to stop these sup­ple­men­tary bud­get loop­holes be­fore the sit­u­a­tion gets worse. Short of that, gov­ern­ment will be sim­ply serv­ing to abet the break­down of the coun­try’s bud­get­ing processes and con­don­ing the theft of tax­pay­ers’ money