Ugandan Ministry Releases Defence Funds for Q1 2013/2014

The Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development has released Ush2.35 trillion ($905m) to the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies for the first quarter (July – September) of the financial year 2013/14.

Speaking to the press at the Ministry’s headquarters in Kampala last week, Mr. Keith Muhakanizi, the Secretary to treasury said the funds had been released with strict instructions to the various accounting officers to maintain budgetary discipline.

In a strong worded message, Muhakanizi said, “I am therefore warning everybody that supplementary expenditures other than for emergencies will not be entertained.”

A closer scrutiny of the funds released shows that treasury operations (Ush249b about $96m) and the Uganda National Roads Authority (Ush248b about $95m) and Ministry of Defence (Ush190b about $73m) have received the highest disbursements.

Ministries and Government Agencies received Ush1.7trillion ($690m), referral hospitals have received Ush17.8b ($6.8m), Missions abroad Ush23b ($8.9m) while local governments have received Ush517b ($198m) for their operations during the months July to September 2013.

Of the Ush2.35trillion disbursed, Ush599b ($230m) will be spent on wages and Ush1trillion will be for Non Wage Recurrent (Money for operations, capitation grants, among others).

The ministry also launched a website so as to enable Ugandans get detailed information on how public money is being spent on provision of services. Muhakanizi said, “We are now going to manage the budget together and that is why we have decided to front budget transparency.”

The budget website (www.budget.go.ug) builds on earlier reforms that have positioned Uganda as one of the leaders in budget transparency in Africa.

Last year’s Open Budget Index – a global measure of budget transparency ranked Uganda 18th in the world, first in East Africa and second in Africa, behind South Africa.

In a related development, Mr. Muhakanizi also explained the salary delays saying that they were as a result of the Auditor General’s audit.

He said, “This was a result of our suspicion sometime back that some Ministries, Departments and Agencies had ghosts on their payrolls.

“We therefore requested the AG to do a thorough audit. After that, he came back with an audit showing that about 7,000 names were questionable.” He added that after the accounting officers carried out the audits, the people were brought back on the payroll.

“Ministry of public service confirmed that the people exist and we started paying them last financial year. Unfortunately, we had not budgeted for them at the time of budgeting. Because of this, we experienced salary shortfall. We therefore went to parliament and requested for a supplementary expenditure,” Muhakanizi explained.

He added that the funds have been released but on condition that any ghosts found any MDAs account would warrant disciplinary action on the accounting officers.

As reported by Emma Onyango for the East African Business Week