Uganda withdraws from international organisations over accumulated debts

Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has withdrawn its membership on international agricultural organisations out of the government’s failure to pay subscription fees that have accumulated to more than Shs 25bn.

According to the Auditor General’s report for the 2016/17 financial year, Uganda failed to pay its subscription fees to the Dessert Locust Control Organisation for East Africa an organisation of countries in East Africa and the Horn of Africa, an organisation that helps with pests and disease control.

Membership to the organisation is through payment of annual subscription fees by member states but by the close of the 2016/17 financial year, Uganda’s cumulative balance payable to Dessert Locust Control Organisation for East Africa amounted to $4,955,770 (Shs 18.5bn).

Uganda had previously, in 2000, withdrawn from the International Red Locust Control Organisation for the Central and Southern Africa with an outstanding debt of $1,838,017 (Shs 6.9bn).

The accumulated debts are part of the investigation by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) into the queries raised by the Auditor General John Muwanga in his June 30, 2017 report to Parliament.

Appearing before the committee, Pius Wakabi, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Permanent Secretary, blamed the accumulated subscription debts on meager funds given to the ministry from the limited the Treasury.

The Audit report however states that the ministry irregularly incurred arrears amounting to more than Sh 27.3bn outside the approved budget estimates.

Wakabi said, the bulk of the arrears accumulated because of government’s failure to allocate funds for international organisations such as global bodies like Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health.

Wakabi said, government however cleared its debt with FAO which currently stands at Shs 64m.