Members of Parliament on Committee of Budget have welcomed proposals by the Shadow Minister for Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi (NUP, Butambala) which among others call for a review of the law and regulations relating to the management of the classified budget.
Kivumbi’s proposals are contained in the Opposition’s response to the Charter of Fiscal Responsibility for FY 2021/2022 – FY 2025/2026. He appeared before the Committee on Tuesday morning to defend his proposals which he says are intended to check the government’s excesses in terms of wasteful expenditure, improve revenue mobilization and save the economy from collapse.
His push for an amendment of the law and regulations on the classified budget, Kivumbi intends to have the classified expenditures and equipment opened up for value for money audits.
He expressed concern that the public debt has continued to grow because of the money being committed to classified expenditures whose allocation take a large share of the National Budget but with limited scrutiny.
He particularly questioned the need for a classified for State House yet security agencies such as Internal Security Organisation (ISO) and External Security Organisation (ESO) fall under the Office of the President which the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) is under the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs which also benefit from the classified budget allocations.
Otuke County MP, Paul Omara (NRM) among other members of the Committee supported Kivumbi’s proposal arguing that country’s debt burden could be due to poor prioritization.
“We have heard the issues about classified expenditures; we as the Budget Committee need to consider the balancing act given the limited resources we have in terms of revenue, we need to make sure that in the process of appropriation, we balance the act because if we don’t pay our escalating domestic and foreign debt, leave alone the interest component which is now at UGX 15 trillion, how can we be so indisciplined and spend money the way we want while accumulating more?” Omara wondered.
“In terms of setting the fiscal charter rules, we must make it so stringent that it gives us the attendant revenue that we need, that it controls our appetite for gross spending where we actually don’t get value for money,” he added.
Kivumbi also wants Parliament to allocate more funds to office of the Auditor General to do more value for money audits than financial audits which he says serve no purpose.
“Emphasis should be placed on setting performance targets for value for money audits. These place emphasis on efficiency and effectiveness of spent public funds more than accountability an aspect that is prioritized by financial and forensic audits,” Kivumbi told the Committee.
Over the last 10 years, the Auditor General undertook only 91 value for money audits compared to 17,420 financial audits and 320 forensic investigations.
“In a bid to enhance the quality of service delivery, it is ideal that each year, value for money audits are not less than 5 percent of the total audits undertaken by the Auditor General,” he said.
The Committee Vice Chairperson, Ignatius Mudimi (Elgon County, NRM) who chaired the the meeting promised to invite the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to respond to Kivumbi’s proposals.