Questions over UPDF’s 1 trillion classified budget

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In the firing line: Maj. Bright Rwamirama
In the firing line: Maj. Bright Rwamirama

May 30, 2018 – Members of parliament want more transparency before they can approve a supplementary budget for the Ministry of Defence that includes Ushs 247 billion in classified expenditure.

Junior Minister for Veterans Affairs Maj.Bright Rwamirama, was at the receiving end of tough questioning yesterday when MP’s on the house Budget Committee sought a breakdown of the Ushs369 billion that the ministry was requesting for in a supplementary.

While Committee chair Amos Lugoloobi was concerned about the broader macro-economic implications, arguing that running a deficit budget was unhealthy, Butambala County MP Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi was blunter observing that classified expenditure had topped Ush 1 trillion. Kivumbi argued that classified expenditure was not open to a public audit funds allocations there were often diverted to funding the ruling party.

This sparked heated debate with Usuk County MP Peter Ogwang and UPDF’ representative Col. Felix Kulayigye arguing there a classified expenditure committee that scrutinizes and authorizes the allocations which are also subjected to audit by the Auditor General.

According to Rwamirama, part of the supplementary will cover arrears to suppliers of food, fuel, medicines and clothing for the army. He said UShs 60.9 billion was due to suppliers of special meals, Ushs 22.3 billion fuel for the land forces and Ushs 13.1 billion fuel for Force. Another Ushs 24.6 billion was for clothing, Ushs 2 billion was for medical expenses while 247 billion Shillings was for classified expenditure.
The minister explained that the Ushs 60.9 billion for special meals has been outstanding since August 2017.
Hon. Peter Ogwang and Col. Felix Kulayigye urged their colleagues to approve the request reasoning that that such arrears give the institution a bad name and should be cleared immediately. Rwamirama further defended the Shillings 247 billion classified expenditure request saying that his ministry had already explained the purposes to the Parliamentary Budget sub-committee on classified expenditure last Friday.

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