After the Christmas break, Parliamentary Sectoral Committees are currently reviewing the Budget Framework Paper for the 2024/25 fiscal year. Their focus is on ensuring adequate funding for various sectors of the economy.
The Sectoral Committees are expected to submit their observations and recommendations to the Budget Committee by mid-January.
The Budget Committee will then present a comprehensive report on the Budget Framework Paper to the entire House when plenary sessions resume on January 25.
During these committee-level discussions, various Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) are advocating for their budget allocations within the resource envelope determined by the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development.
Some MDAs are seeking support from the Committees to persuade Parliament to allocate funds for priorities that were overlooked in the initial Budget Framework Paper by the Ministry of Finance.
URA TO RECURIT STAFF
Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has informed the Committee on Finance that it needs an additional UGX 167 billion to recruit 1,278 new staff in order to improve the efficiency of the Authority.
John Musinguzi, URA’s Commissioner General said that as part of the structural review, the tax body wants to recruit more staff to identify the areas where the country is losing a lot of revenue.
“The Uganda Revenue Authority is doing a structural review to improve the efficiency of the organisation to add on to the number of foot soldiers required to do this noble mandate to plug some of the revenue leakages, and this activity hadn’t happened for quite some long period of time. Our proposal is that this recruitment can be spread over time because it would require about UGX 167 billion,” said Musinguzi.
In 2024/25, URA has been allocated UGX 619.9 billion, of which, UGX 253.4 billion will go towards payment of wages; UGX 321.174 billion is for non-wage expenditure, while UGX45.3 billion will cover development expenditure.
Musinguzi informed legislators that the UGX 165 billion needed for the recruitment of staff is part of the UGX 224.2 billion needed to fund five priorities that the Ministry of Finance has not allocated resources for. One such priority is the UGX 31.5 billion required for the development of an oil and gas monitoring system.
However, the Authority wants another Shs223.212Bn to fund five key unfunded priorities, among which include the Shs31.5Bn that is required to develop an oil and gas monitoring system.
“As we all know, the first oil is expected in 2025, but the current year is when all the investment in extraction and exploration are taking place and we need to effectively monitor and capture all these activities in an automated system. We are currently holding all big investments in manual files, and we need a system to help us monitor and control all these because 80 per cent of the entire sector is happening now before the first oil comes out,” he pleaded
URA is also seeking UGX 14.6 billion to acquire new and replace obsolete computers, UGX 5.593 billion to purchase a system for automatic exchange of information to aid in tax investigations and intelligence gathering and UGX 3.620 billion to acquire 2 more mobile office service buses.
In the 2024/25 financial year, URA is required to collect UGX 29.958 trillion up from UGX 29.672 trillion the Authority is expected to have collected at the end of this financial year.
Herbert Tayebwa, MP for Kashongi County, said that there is a need for URA to furnish the Committee with details on how the extra UGX 223 billion funding would translate into increased revenue collection.
“You are indicating that you need UGX 223 billion spread over three years, including the coming financial year. I also wish you could compute the impact of this expenditure on the total revenue. If we spend this money as requested, what impact would it have on increasing the total revenue so that it becomes a justification to see whether it is really necessary or not,” said Tayebwa.
Gerald Nangoli, MP for Elgon County, said that the tax body needs to come up with a good system of building the confidence of the staff so that the Authority does not suffer when employees seek greener pastures elsewhere.
“I don’t know if you have interested yourself to know why there is a high rate of labour turnover in URA, people are leaving every day. Is it because they are given unrealistic targets that they aren’t able to meet, and yet we are putting in a lot of money to train these people? Apparently, you even have consultants on board who are training these people day and night, why are these people leaving?” asked Nangoli.
KCCA’s COVID-19 Parade
Meanwhile, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has requested Parliament to approve the expenditure of UGX600 million to be spent on several tourism activities, including holding a COVID-19 remembrance parade, an idea they say was borrowed from Canada.
KCCA officials were put to task by legislators on the Presidential Affairs Committee to explain the expenditure on the COVID-19 parade as listed in their presentation on the BFP for the 2024/25 financial year.
Francis Adome, MP for Moroto Municipality, wanted the officials to explain the kind of COVID-19 remembrance parade the KCCA officials want to organise.
“I do not understand what they mean here by the Covid-19 remembrance parade. Is it a country-wide parade, and who is going to be remembered because that is part of tourism? I don’t understand what they mean by that, and I am seeing UGX 600 million,” he said.
David Luyimbazi, KCCA Deputy Executive Director, informed the Committee that the COVID-19 parade is intended not just to remember the lives lost to the deadly pandemic but also to extend appreciation to the medical workers who worked tirelessly to treat and save the lives of the people in Uganda.
“This is more of a remembrance campaign, many people died, many businesses closed, and we can’t wish them away. Many countries are remembering this COVID-19 event as part of appreciating the sacrifices people made, the doctors, so this is partly tourism, partly remembrance. So this was an idea that was borrowed from Canada, where they are embracing it, so we thought Kampala would borrow it and also anchor itself among other cities,” explained Luyimbazi.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health website indicate that Uganda recorded 170,255 confirmed of COVID-19, while 3,632 lost their lives to the pandemic.
According to the details provided before the Committee, other tourism development activities include holding the Kampala Tourism Expo, developing the Kampala tourism brand and identity, digitising the Kampala tourism information centre and developing and maintaining 10 tourism sites around the city.
Dorothy Kisaka, Executive Director at KCCA, further explained that the branding of Kampala will include improving the image of the City and end the negative vibe and language used when discussing Kampala City.
“We feel there is a lot of negative vibe talking about Kampala, but can we collectively begin a language that is identifiable about products of who we are as a city? So, that language is going to be in product activities, and the goal isn’t so much to market Kampala to others, but that is also there but takes collective responsibility for the well-being of our city. So, we as administrators must lead in that, we must demonstrate by providing for that under language, under vibe around what Kampala is and what it can be,” she said.
KCCA Budget at a Glance
In the 2024/25 national budget, KCCA has been allocated UGX806.409 billion and out of this, the Government will only contribute UGX 274 billion while UGX521.766 billion will be borrowed externally for road infrastructure and development.
KCCA will also spend UGX 143.199 billion on wages, UGX84.505 billion on recurrent expenditure while UGX 46.919 billion will go towards development projects around the city.
KCCA also requested UGX23.1 billion for the management of litigation, arbitration and compensation to 3rd parties for already decided cases, but only UGX 3.82 billion was availed, leaving a gap of UGX 22.87 billion.
However, city dwellers and the business community may continue to grapple with potholes and floods within the City after KCCA reported that out of the UGX 235 billion requested to deal with roads, Finance only provided for UGX 28 billion in the BFP.
According to KCCA, Kampala has a road network of 2,110 km, out of which approximately 32 per cent is paved. Most of the current paved network was constructed over 30 years ago and has outlived its design life.
Also affected by the budget cuts is the implementation of the City street lighting master plan, which requires UGX 65 billion, which has not been provided for, while for the drainage development project, only UGX 15 billion has been provided out of the requisite UGX 200 billion.
“We have a major intervention under traffic. We are right now building a traffic control centre that is going to take care of 27 junctions, and we are going to change 27 roundabouts into areas of traffic lights. So it is one of the major interventions we are making in regards to how the City works better, and there is easy traffic flow,” said Kisaka
Butabika hospital troubles
Butabika National Referral Mental Hospital has also revealed to Parliament that it is facing challenges in feeding the patients referred from different parts of the country.
The facility has asked Parliament to appropriate UGX4.7 billion instead of the allocated figure of UGX 2.439 billion for the patients’ meals.
The plea was made by Juliet Nakku, Executive Director of Butabika Hospital, while appearing before Parliament’s Health Committee, where she informed MPs that the facility has 313,000 patients. She said that the hospital is required to feed annually at an average cost of UGX 6,187 per patient a day, which includes breakfast, lunch and supper, against the ideal cost of UGX 15,000 for three meals daily.
“It should be noted that the current inpatient numbers are averaging 1200 daily in admission as against the bed capacity of 550. These patients get 3 meals per day which means that we have to improvise within the available budget. There is a need to increase this budget since food is part of the treatment and the hospital takes full charge of patient feeding,” added Nakku.
Nakku also requested UGX2.5 billion to complete the construction of a 2.5 km perimeter wall fence at Butabika Hospital in order to reduce cases of patients escaping from the facility, which may not only pose a danger to the patients but also to the community around them.
“The wall fence is still half done, and as a result, many patients use the undone section to escape from the hospital. This is a big danger to them and the community. We also end up spending a lot of money on fuel to pick them from the roads as they escape,” noted Nakku.
In the 2024/25 national budget, Butabika Hospital has been allocated UGX 22.7 billion, of which UGX 9.5 billion is for payment of wages, UGX 10.6 billion for recurrent expenditure and UGX 2.513 billion is for development.
Among the unfunded priorities, Butabika Hospital needs UGX 2.386 billion for uniforms and bedding for the patients.
Nakku informed legislators that the current budget of UGX858.8 million is supposed to cater to 1100 patients, yet the hospital admits 6,762 patients a year. On average, each patient requires UGX 480,000 for mattresses, bed sheets, blankets and two pairs of uniforms.