Kasaija under fire over budget inconsistencies

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Kasaija under fire over budget inconsistencies
Kasaija under fire over budget inconsistencies

Africa-PressUganda. The Finance minister, Mr Matia Kasaija, was yesterday forced to withdraw his Shs41.2 trillion budget estimates for the 2021/2022 financial year over inconsistences in the figures presented.The budget framework paper that the minister presented before the Finance committee yesterday reflected sectoral budget cuts to the tune of Shs4.4 trillion as opposed to the Shs45.6 trillion budget approved by Parliament in January.

Mr Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala, DP) brought the matter to the attention of MPs when he queried why the budget Parliament approved in line with the National Development Plan (NDPIII), had been disregarded. “The figures you are presenting are not what Parliament approved. Why are you reading your own figures? You mean what we did was nothing? I beg you withdraw this statement and come back with credible information in line with what we approved,” Mr Kivumbi said.

Programmes affectedSome of the key programmes affected by the budget cuts as highlighted by the minister in his policy statement included human capital development, integrated transport infrastructure and services, agro-industrialisation, regional development, development plan implementation and sustainable energy development.Others are private sector transformation and sustainable urbanisation and housing. For instance, Parliament had approved a budget allocation of Shs7 trillion meant for human capital development but the money was trimmed to Shs6.8 trillion.

Government had also increased budget allocations to the governance and security, public sector transformation, innovation, technology development and transfer, tourism and community mobilisation and mindset change.Mr Fred Mwesigwa (Nyabushozi, NRM) said whereas government had directed more resources towards security, they should address the biting poverty among communities, which escalates insecurity.

“Government should reduce its expenditure and direct more resources towards programmes that are more productive and would produce more jobs for youth. We should concentrate on programmes that will drive poverty away,” Mr Mwesigwa said.Ms Cecilia Ogwal (Dokolo Woman, FDC) accused the minister of sneaking into the budget Shs132.2b to be channeled through microfinance meant for Emyooga, that was never approved by Parliament. The chairperson of the committee, Mr Amos Lugoloobi, said they could not proceed with the discuss of a statement with varying figures.

However, Mr Kasaija said his ministry had to deduct money from some programmes to balance the budget.“Since revenue is reducing, the expenditure is increasing .We either have to reduce our expenditure or increase our tax base,” Mr Kasaija said.

He said the ministry projects a growth of 4.3 per cent up from 3.1 per cent based on the assumption that the negative consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic will subside with the discovery of the vaccine.Mr Kasaija also accepted to retract the statement and rectify the inconsistences as pointed out by MPs.

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