By Andrew Irumba
Government of Uganda through the State Minister of Finance for Planning David Bahati has requested legislators to approve a loan equivalent to Shs415 billion for irrigation.
Bahati speaking this was on August 28 appearing before the committee of National Economy to defend the about 415 billion shillings for irrigation and water supply in 920 areas across the country.
He added that, the loan from UK Finance is meant to develop Solar Powered irrigation and water supply system project, in a move to enhance income in rural areas through increased production arising from irrigated Agriculture.
According to the minister, Some of the areas to benefit include medium scale Irrigation schemes in Kabarole, Oyam, Kween, Nebbi, Butaleja, and Omoro. Others are small scale Irrigation schemes Arua, Ntoroko, Ibanda, Dokolo, Butambala, Gomba, Rukungiri,Kisoro,Kaabong, Napak,Manafwa among others.
Bahati said, Government will fund 45 billion shillings of the total loan adding that as Government they are aware that the loan will no doubt increase the total public debt.
The minister said they are currently at 41.8 % threshold, although the Kampala Jinja Express Highway and the Standard Gauge Railway loans which are the major remaining projects will push the public debt nearer to the threshold.
He pleaded with the MPs saying they should approve the loan as Government is very strict in paying salaries and paying the loans.
Arua Municipality MP Kassiano Wadri said Government should be careful as the borrowing has become too much and the money is also not being put to its intended use.
Syda Bbumba, the Chairperson of the Committee questioned whether Government was paying its loans. He says President Museveni asked her not to process loans without his clearance.
According to Bahati, the first component of the loan of will be urban water supply for domestic use, the second one will be for rural water supply for domestic use and the third one small scale irrigation.
In 2010, drought accounted for 38% loss in bean harvest and 36% loss in maize harvest.