June 27, 2013

Parliament blocks Supplementary Budget

State Minister for Finance Fred Omach on Wednesday failed for the second time to convince Parliament to pass the supplementary budget worth 46.9 billion shillings.

Members of Parliament had questioned why wages worth 15.2 billion shillings, and non- wages expenditure worth 21.8 billion shillings were in the supplementary budget. Also queried was supplementary funding for State House shortfalls in wages amounting to over two billion shillings among others.

PARLIAMENT

Leader of Opposition Nandala Mafabi cited Iganga Municipality where 1.5 billion shillings was deducted from primary teachers’ salaries without consulting the accounting officers in the area.

In agreement, Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal recalled that last year the Budget committee agreed that any consultations must go beyond Cabinet which means the consultation had to be done in compliance with the Public Accounts and Accountability Act. Clause 8 of the Act requires that accounting officers must be involved and consulted for any expenditure under their vote. Mafabi concluded that the supplementary budget is illegal.

Yumbe Woman MP Oleru Huda tried to convince the House that some government officers are to blame for failure to pay salaries calling on the Prime Minister to reign in on them. She argued that she would painfully agree that the budget be passed but those government officials not doing their work should be fired.

Padyere County MP Joshua Anywarach told Parliament that some accounting officers informed him of the closure of the Integrated Financial Management System which means salaries shall not be paid even though the supplementary is passed.
Odongo Otto, the MP for Aruu County, said no amount of explanation from Ministers can change the status of issues. He added that unless government convinces them that salaries can be sent within the remaining three days to the closure of the financial year 2012/2013, they would not agree to the suggestion.

Tim Lwanga, the chairperson of the Budget Committee, was quick to suggest that Parliament should play its role and pass the budget and wait for government in the next financial year to provide accountability.

Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi said they should be given an opportunity to pay those who have not been paid such as teachers and police officers. He appealed that though the MPs had expressed fear the money may be returned to the consolidated fund, they should pass the budget and see if government will not account for it.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga then asked whether it was legally right for Parliament to only to pass the salaries budget since there was a majority concession to allow teachers and police officers to get their pay. She also stated that this was an opportunity for Parliament to tighten its accountability measures so that government can be held accountable in the next financial year.

Deputy Attorney General Fred Ruhindi advised that the House has the powers to pass the budget and there would be no problem splitting the budget.

MP Ogwal then moved a motion that the salary component which is the bulk of the budget be approved.

Internal Affairs State Minister James Baba appealed that the police should be included since they were only given a provision of 22 out of 64 billion shillings or stand to risk the security of the country.
However, all the pleas fell on deaf ears as the House got emptier thus the lack of quorum to pass the supplementary budget.

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