MP wants stringent laws on supplementary budget

A section of opposition MPs want the law regulating supplementary budget approval amended, saying that the process has been abused.

Robert Centenary the Kasese Municipality MP while presenting the alternative policy statement for the Ministry of Finance at Parliament said both the public institutions benefiting from supplementaries and those that authorise the supplementary funds abuse it.

According to Centenary, despite the fact that the Budget Committee of Parliament has expressed concern about the increasing supplementary budget requests that hit Shs 1.5trillion for 2017/2018, Parliament has had a dead ear in all these warning by continuing to approve these requests.

“Parliament has been bending regulations by approving supplementary expenditures as long as such expenditures fulfil conditions like absorption, unavoidable and unforeseeable,” Centenary said.

Centenary pointed out a loan of Shs 910bn that was brought to Parliament to cater for salaries and procurement of CCTV Cameras wondering how these items weren’t envisaged during the budget process.

Centenary added: “Given that the law in its current form only empowers the house to approve the supplementary expenditures after use by responsible Ministries and Departments, there is gross financial indiscipline on the part of agencies, by allowing the release of supplementary expenditures which does not meet the requirements.”

The Legislator argued that when regulations are amended, it will be easy for Parliament to approve the supplementary budgets to enable government to acquire operational funds in cases of emergencies.

The Opposition also commended Government for raising allocations towards domestic arrears from Shs1 10bn as was earlier proposed by Government to Shs 300.13bn in 2017/2018, although the alternative statement pointed out that the proposed figure is still inadequate to clear verified stock domestic arrears amounting to Shs 2.7trillion in 2015/2016.

The Opposition team noted that the stock has since risen to Shs 2.9trillion in 2016/2017. This comprises of arrear in regard to goods and services, salaries, wages, pension and gratuity.

The MP also raised alarm over the continued growth in domestic arrears particularly for supplies, saying this has led to collapse of business and banks, attributing the trend to failure to repay back loans thereby raising bad loans.

The alternative policy statement also raised concern over Government’s continued reliance on external financing for infrastructural investments, which is a clear indication that government’s fiscal strategy is expansionary characterised by increase spending so as to increase money supply in the economy and stimulate economic activities.

According to the statement, external financing is projected to increase from Shs 4.56Trillion to Shs 6.77trillion in FY2018/2019.

The Opposition said that despite the move by Government concentrating funding on infrastructure projects, unfortunately, the performance of most of the infrastructural loans and projects is unsatisfactory for they are characterised by poor absorption, project overruns both in cost and time as well as delays in anticipated benefits.

Centenary also applauded Government for allocating Shs 77bn for contingencies fund.