A section of MPs have protested the proposed 421billion shillings expenditure budget for State House in the next financial year, saying it is unlawful and inconsiderate of the welfare of other Ugandans.
The protest came during debate on budget proposals today as parliament is in final stages of preparing the national budget for the Financial year 2023/2024, with a proposed 421billion shillings earmarked for State House and 250 billion for President’s Office.
In a minority report, members including Muwanga Kivumbi (MP Butambala), Ssemujju Ibrahim (Kira), Adeke Ebaju (Soroti District) Namugga Goreth (Mawogola) Lulume Bayiga (Buikwe South) contend that the proposed 421BN budget for State House represents wasteful expenditure, focusing on luxury of one family at the expense of millions of Ugandans.
The proposed budget includes Donations 137 billion, Classified Expenditure 83.1 billion, Travel inland 73.4 billion Casuals/Temporary Staff 28 billion, Staff salaries 25 billion, Vehicle maintenance 11 billion, Buildings improvement 15 billion, Agriculture supplies 7.8 billion, Special meals and drinks 6.5 billion, Welfare and Entertainment 3.3 billion, Travel abroad 2.2 billion, Aircraft improvement 2 billion, Staff medical expenses 654 million, Furniture and other fittings, 600 million, Books Periodicals and Newspapers 500 million, Beddings clothes and footwear 350 million, Veterinary supplies 184 million -all totaling to 421BN.
Members proposed that the President and his family are given Shs 21 billion under State House for their welfare, and the extra Shs 400 billion should be used to fund priorities in the health sector.
“The President under the Constitution works or is supposed to work for the sole purpose of promoting the welfare of citizens not his welfare. This Parliament will be in breach of the Constitution if it passes a budget that allows the president to illegally swim in luxury at the expense of the citizens’ welfare.” Muwanga Kivumbi said pointing out several items in the budget.
“Hon Members, I would like to draw your attention to some of the items to be funded under State House. There is Shs 350 million to buy clothes. The same amount was provided last year. This means, we are spending on average Shs 1 million on President’s clothes every day.”
“Our President is not a star from Hollywood. He is a president of a poor country. Why buy him clothes worth Shs 350 every year. What happened to the clothes that we bought last year?’ He queried adding;
“We are providing Shs 600 million for furniture. We provided the same amount last year. Is there anyone who sleeps in the presidential chairs for them to break every year?”
The MPs contend that the Presidential Emoluments and Benefits Act 1998 provides a list for a salary, allowances and other benefits to the President, and when budgeting for the President and his family, this law applies but the previous Parliaments have not guided themselves on what the president and his family is entitled to in the law.
“The President has a duty not to abuse State House. But if he chooses to do so, this Parliament is under obligation to stop him. Remember Vote 002 which is State House started around 1997 with about Shs 12 billion. Last year, it hit a trillion.”
“I therefore propose that the President and his family are given Shs 21 billion under State House for their welfare. The extra Shs 400 billion should be used to fund priorities in the health sector.” he added.
The minority report also queries Shs 7.8 billion provided for agriculture supplies in the current financial year yet another Shs 184 million is being proposed for veterinary services. “Did the President turn State House into a farm without the knowledge of the country? Parliament must be sure that we are not the ones funding President Museveni’s private farms in Kisozi and Rwakitura.” Kivumbi fumed.
The report notes that the President first came for Shs 682 billion before returning with a Shs 150 billion classified expenditure in the supplementary. “We have a duty to stop this madness.”
The opposition members, however, okayed the 250BN budget for the President’s office apart from 43.7 billion for official ceremonies and 38.7 billion for classified expenditure.