Members of Parliament sitting on the Committee of Internal Affairs and Defence have expressed concerns over the increasing monies proposed for classified expenditure by the Ministry of Defence.
MP Muwaga Kivumbi, representing Butambala and a member of the Defence Committee, is now suggesting a formation of a subcommittee of Parliament to ascertain what entails classified expenditure which he said could be a way of extorting public funds.
In the last financial year 2012-2013 the Defence Ministry was allocated 122 billion by Parliament for classified expenditure and on top of that the ministry got 4.7 billion from external donations making a total of 127 billion for classified expenditure.
This financial year 2013-2014 the Defence Ministry is demanding 295 billion shillings for classified expenditure which almost doubles the approved money in the previous Financial Year.
Out of the 1.016 trillion budget allocation the Defence Ministry wants, this could be a third of it whose expenditure is not questionable by Parliament.
Kivumbi said that the subcommittee members could take oath and then proceed with accessing information on the classified expenditures on behalf of Parliament.
MP Benny Bugembe Mugwanya, the chairperson of the Defence Committee, said that she is going to inquire about the legal implication of the formation of a subcommittee with Parliament and see how it can be formed to look at what classified expenditures are.
Hassan Kaps Fungaroo, the Shadow Minister for Defence, said that classified expenditures could be a disguise that the Defence Ministry uses to get money and later be spends on other things.
He demanded that an explanation be given for the big increment of the money and at the same time expressed worry about the classified expenditure saying that it is not subject to audit by the auditor general and that Parliament cannot know where the money is spent.
Fungaroo added that it must also be Parliament’s role to define what classified expenditure entails in order to limit worries and questions arising from the huge sums of money required by the Ministry.
Meanwhile the committee has also queried how the Defence Ministry could spend the same amount of money that was approved by parliament in the previous financial year on wages with the reported desertions in the army.
In the previous financial year, Parliament approved 325 billion shillings for defence wages which the Defence Ministry according to a document availed to the committee said that they had fully spent under actual amount of spent.
MP Margret Makhoha, Woman representative of Namayingo, said that it was not possible for the ministry to spend the same money that was approved on wages by Parliament when there are army officials deserting saying that she was expecting less money being spent.
The State Minister for Defence JJ Odongo told the committee that they had spent the money since they do appoint other officials in the army when others desert.
However the committee failed to buy the Minister’s explanation saying that it cannot be possible for the Ministry to appoint the same number of people to fill the vacancies of those who have deserted which MP Muwanga Kivumbi said that the ministry could have done a cut and paste to explain the expenditure to the committee.
Shadow Defence Minister Kaps Fungaroo demanded that the Ministry provides the committee with the number of people that had actually deserted the army in the previous financial year to see whether the figures can rhyme.