Hassan Kaps Fungaroo, the Shadow Minister for Defence wants the term ‘classified expenditure’ abolished from the budgeting system.
Fungaroo argues that excessive concealment of information on budgetary issues is a source of danger for the military and national security. He says the concealment of information under classified expenditure breeds corruption and diversion of resources from key priority areas to individual and selfish interests outside the military.
In his response to the defense ministerial policy statement, Fungaroo proposes that the defense ministry should be able to tell Parliament what the money requested under classified expenditure is meant for to enable the house ascertain whether it is spent on its intended purpose or diverted.
He faults the defense ministry of hiding under the pretext of safeguarding security matters from the enemies of Uganda to deny MPs access to information so as to perform their oversight and legislative roles that would strengthen the budget control systems of the ministry.
Fungaroo observes that the budget control systems and the general governance decisions making mechanism intended to provide checks and balances for monitoring and controlling expenditure in the defense ministry are weak. He therefore recommends that parliament scraps classified expenditures in the budget system.
Last month, opposition legislators on the defense committee led by Muwanga Kivumbi, the Butambala County MP asked Parliament to form a subcommittee to look into the items under classified expenditure before money is released to the defense ministry.
They also asked Parliament to pronounce its self on what items should fall under classified expenditure. They said that this would help MPs to hold the Defense Ministry accountable for the money spent under classified expenditure.
In the last financial year 2012-2013, parliament allocated the defense Ministry 122 billion shillings on top of 4.7 billion from external donations under classified expenditure.
The same ministry is seeking 295 billion shillings under classified expenditure this finance, twice as much as was allocated the last financial year. The Defense Committee in its report also notes with concern the huge increase in money requested under classified expenditure and recommends an audit by the auditor general to ensure value for money.