The Uganda Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee of parliament has questioned why Ministry of Defense has exaggerated domestic arrears despite the prevailing peace in the country.
According to the Auditor General’s report ending July 2011 there has been minimal progress in curbing accumulation of arrears. During the period under review the arrears excluding employee costs and financial costs increased by Shs157.7 billion from 357.5 billion in 2009/2010 to Shs515.3 billion in 2010/2011 representing a 44 percent rise.
The Auditor general report also notes that currently government does not have a strategy to handle the escalating domestic arrears. The existing strategy 2007/2010 expired in 2010.
The cumulative domestic arrears position for Ministry of Defense at the end of the financial year 2010/2011 was 32.9 billion shillings. Edith Buturo, the undersecretary ministry of defense explained to the committee that they incur arrears because of increased activities and widening operational area without a corresponding increase in funding.
She also partly attributed the increase of the arrears on inflation and depreciation of the Ugandan shilling against the dollar. Kasiano Wadri Terego county MP wondered how the Shs32.9 billion was spent yet most of the foreign missions of Uganda such as AMISOM are donor funded.
Alice Alaso, the Serere District Woman MP said recently the Defence Minister Dr Crispus Kiyonga told Parliament of the UPDF’s contributions to foreign missions and wondered if UPDF is the one that feeds soldiers out of the country.
Benon Tumwesigye the assistant commissioner in Defence told the committee that the money was meant for food, fuel and transport but promised to bring accurate accountability on Thursday this week.
Tumwesigye and Buturo acknowledged that it was 39.2 billion of which a loss of 4.4 billion shs was incurred during the year ending 30th June 2011. They explained that accumulation of arrears is due to perennial underfunding especially for items that are strategic like food fuel, medical treatment and utilities.
The Auditor General’s report also noted the loss of Shs10 billion meant for procurement of items that the ministry of Defence could not explain. It was also stated that a total of Shs175.4 billion was budgeted to cater for gross tax payments but actual expenditure amounted to only 71.4 billion shs.
18 entities did not utilize the money at all while several others utilized less than 30 percent of the appropriated gross tax resources. The AG notes that appropriating funds for activities whose likelihood of occurrence is remote has a number of implications such as providing avenues for irregular diversions. It also creates large budgetary slacks which provide for future unfair budgetary variations. The Defense ministry officials have until Thursday to provide proper explanations of their budget for the financial year under review.